Mathew Mayfield is a serious man. Armed with captivating lyrics and an acoustic guitar he gave Pittsburgh’s Club Café quite a show this November. For almost an hour and a half Mayfield stood below red stage lights and performed.
And he performed well.
The set list consisted of songs that stretched over the last six years. But what was most enjoyable was his ability to treat the audience to songs like “Quiet Lies,” “Fire Escape,” and ”Missed Me“ and then not only acknowledged but interacted with the audience. His ability to connect with the audience was much more than having a shot of tequila with a fan between songs—which he did. Mayfield made the evening feel like a truly intimate show. At one point when Mayfield began taking requests he was barraged with song titles, and, somehow he not only seemed to acknowledge each person among the indistinguishable voices, but also played almost every request. There was even a moment, after he had performed a number of requests, that Mayfield struggled to remember the lyrics to “By Your Side” from his 2008 EP. But one devote fan did not miss a beat and approached the stage with the lyrics on her phone in hand. To top it all off Mayfield also shared his night with the audience by getting everyone to sing the chorus of “Now You’re Free.” At the end of the evening he then treated us to the best cover of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” I’ve ever heard.
But what I found most enjoyable about Mayfield’s performance was how it was at once relatable yet also so foreign. The honesty about strained relationships and the hope of attaining freedom dripping from the microphone seemed to resonate with everyone in the room. The audience seemed to silently agree with each lyric. Yet, Mayfield was concurrently a curiosity to all. Singing his heartfelt vocals while gripping his guitar slightly too far in front of himself was a reminder that this is a man full of sorrow, loss, and a palpable sense of hope. Songs like “Heartbeat” and “Now You’re Free” affirmed that it was a poet standing behind a guitar who fascinated all of us in attendance.
If you get a chance it would do you well to see Matthew Mayfield perform in the flesh.
[In the mean time, if you’d like to support Mayfield’s current album project, check out his LoudFund, which allows fans to not only get rewards like other crowdfunding platforms, but also gain literal economic returns on the album’s success. Check it out.]