REVIEW: M. Ward @ Masonic Lodge, Hollywood Forever 2.2.12

Taking in a show at the Masonic Lodge located within the famed Hollywood Forever Cemetery is always a treat. It’s a small room seating roughly 200, with tall ceilings, two hanging chandeliers and seated cushioned benches to the side. To keep it a little more hip, the walls feature film posters like A Clockwork Orange, while greet you upon entering. It’s one of the more unique rooms for an acoustic performance in , especially considering you just walked past a few gravestones to get there. Last night we were all very fortunate that (real name, Matthew Stephen Ward) decided to play a solo gig there. Having sit in doesn’t hurt either.

What it looked like inside...

For a musician who doesn’t get out much, it was a breath of fresh air to watch the shy yet controlled movements of this acoustic guitar virtuoso. It’s astonishing how much rhythm and story he creates within a two or three minute song. It’s hard not to proclaim one of the more important songwriters of this century.

The show started off with few older tunes : ”Poison Cup,” “Chinese Translation,” and “Outta My Head.” Each song was slowed down in this acoustic incarnation with Ward speaking the words at times and holding longer notes than heard on their respective albums. He was singing and altering the tunes as if we were in his living room listening in.

The show was off to a damn good start.

Speaking in between songs for far longer than I can remember, the humble Ward told the story of when he was a young boy in Ventura, California. Each morning he ate cereal and would look at the side of the milk carton, it always displaying a photo of a boy or girl – MISSING CHILDREN.  He also went to Disneyland with his parents as a young boy and remembers the ”It’s a Small World After All” ride.  He was confused and didn’t understand how there could be all these missing children — Wasn’t it ‘A small world after all? After a few chuckles from the audience he went into “A Fuel for Fire” …

“Fuel for fire, missing persons
in a small, small world”

Mixing in a few choice covers, the first, a standout version of Buddy Holly’s “Rave On,” then in a sort of musical-appreciation-revelation for me, decided to cover ’s “The Story of An Artist.” I was familiar with the 1995 documentary film on (The Devil and ) so hearing one of his earliest recorded songs covered by another admirer in was one of the highlights of the evening.

Check out the original version by :