Walking into the Clifton Center last Wednesday night, even with a press pass, was not an easy task to do. Surpassing the line of fans, trailing out of the center’s cold front doors, I had to convince the head coordinator of the show that I would stand in a corner somewhere, and take up as little space as possible, without complaint, in order to catch the show. The seats within the very personable venue were beyond filled with people, of all ages, awaiting Mr. Matt Costa’s performance.
Costa, himself, has an extremely personable aroma about him, I thought to myself as he took the stage and began setting up his instruments, exactly to his liking. Normally I am completely against an artist performing while sitting down. From an audience perspective, watching someone only use half their body to only get halfway into their performance, typically always leaves me only halfway pleased, but, it was in this moment, Costa exempted a unique quality to me, not all musicians obtain.
For any musician to truly put on a great show, they must first establish an intimate-type relationship with … no, not the marketing director of the event or the cute secretary at the front ticket office, but inevitably with the venue itself. I have to admit, one of my first reactions when Costa began to play was, “Thank god he’s not performing on the waterfront… Everyone would be half baked, on the ground falling asleep.” But then I quickly took a further step back, further back than the little nook I was standing in under the stairs which lead up to balcony seating, and realized Mr. Costa had most definitely established a relationship between himself and the virtues of his evening’s venue.
Costa had begun to sing his song “Sweet Rose” after an anxious fan yelled up to him, expressing she really wanted to hear the song, in part to her daughter’s name being Rose. The fan really didn’t have to yell though. The atmosphere was so still in between songs that any one person in the audience could have easily talked to any one of the musicians on stage with the same volume as a normal conversation. It was then, in the middle of “Sweet Rose”, that Matt Costa’s show began to blossom. The fan’s little daughter, probably between the age of 1 and 2, ran up to the side stage, with her mother chasing behind her, and started to dance. I could see elderly women sitting in the back rows of the dark auditorium, tapping their feet to the coffee shop-like piano melodies, of the soft music; Soft music, abruptly illuminated, by the souring soul of a blues harmonica. “My sweet Rose, as the two of us change”, Costa sang; “You and I, we will remain, my Rose, remember my Rose.” Although we weren’t outside next to the river on Louisville’s Great Lawn, there was still a hint of Kentucky green floating through the air like silk, and Mr. Matt Costa continued on through the evening joking and performing for and with the audience of the Clifton Center, like a child dancing on stage.
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