Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Matt Maltese’s poignant vocals, emotional melodies cast blue spell on House of Blues

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Miles Azuma-Hall/The Daily Northwestern
With paper hearts on their smartphone flashlights, fans waved their phones during Matt Maltese’s emotional performance.

An hour before doors opened at the House of Blues Chicago Friday evening, hundreds of concertgoers anxious to hear the gentle indie pop hits of Matt Maltese formed a line that snaked around the block, crossed the Chicago River and continued down Wacker Drive.

This concert marks Maltese’s first time in Chicago since his August 2023 performance at Lollapalooza. Now in a more intimate setting, Maltese’s latest gig from “Touring Just To Tour” contained newer songs like the melancholic “Mother” and classics such as the TikTok hit “As the World Caves In” and the soul-crushing “Less and Less.”

Dynamic duo Sasha Goldberg and Maia Ciambriello of “The Army, The Navy” made their windy city debut opening for Maltese. Featuring dreamy harmonies above acoustic guitars, their excitement to perform shone into the audience, and their dedication of “Alexandra” to “everyone named Alex” brought a wave of cheers.

While the lengthy wait after the opener may have disappointed us, the British-Canadian singer-songwriter surely did not. Maltese began his set with an impressive rendition of “You Deserve an Oscar,” from his third studio album “Good Morning It’s Now Tomorrow,” supported by a band of three other talented and personable musicians. In between melancholy songs, he took several breaks to sign memorabilia, accept gifts and share personal stories, to the delight of the audience.

We were thoroughly impressed by Maltese’s musicianship, particularly his vocal control while adeptly playing the piano during “Curl Up & Die,” as well as his seemingly impromptu bossa nova solo between “madhouse” and “Jupiter.”

The music hall erupted with laughter when Maltese introduced “Hello Black Dog” as one of his most dramatic songs, quipping that it was “Like sadness, but make it Broadway.”

The crowd’s deafening cheers of “encore” brought the singer-songwriter and his band back onstage for two extra songs. As the spotlight shone brightly on Maltese, he closed the night with slower tracks from several albums ago, “Strange Time” and “Everyone Adores You (at least I do).”

Outside of his musical talent, Maltese captivated us with brief remarks on certain songs. He recounted that the first time he played “Kiss Me” — the most popular song on his most recent cover album “Songs That Aren’t Mine” — was at a retirement home when he was a teenager. His audience, he recalled, quickly fell asleep.

A decade later, the room was wide awake with cheers and shouts from the crowd during “Kiss Me.” It’s clear that his musical talents have blossomed, captivating a packed house with his heartfelt lyrics and enchanting melodies.

Email: [email protected]
X: @MilesAzumaHall

Email: [email protected]

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