M. Ward with Scott McCaughey at The Imperial 6/20/18
Cycling around the bend of Hastings/Main and arriving at The Imperial, the energy from inside the venue could be felt from the curb. The Oregon plated M. Ward tour van was parked right out front and Portland roadies chatted as they causally unloaded gear.
It took a little while to fill the venue but people trickled in and the opener, Scott McCaughey came on stage. An old school rock and roll dude donning a San Fran Giants hat and shades, it was clear this was not his first rodeo. He rocked out hard and his handy-dandy little synth allowed him to create a sound much louder than what could seemingly come out of just a one man band.
Ward came out of the dark and immediately started with an old classic, “Post-War.” M. Ward is currently touring his newest album, What a Wonderful Industry, which is fresh off the press and just came out on June 8th. M. Ward has been non-stop hustling since he put out his first album in 1999. His newest album is his 10th, and it is once again a masterpiece.
The entirety of the M. Ward band has a very old school vibe. One of the backup vocalists was dressed in mod-looking clothing and Beatles vibes were definitely felt. M. Ward learned guitar by teaching himself Beatles songs and he started recording demos on a four-track analog tape recorder. He uses this same recorder to this day. Soooo Portland.
M. Ward knows the sweet spot between playing a good mix of oldies and songs from his new album. He touched on most of his discography and played some absolute bangers from Hold Time, such as “For Beginners.” Then he went back to the very beginning and played “Requiem” from Post-War. It was at this point when the audience stood there, mouths gaping and truly awe struck. M. Ward is absolutely insanely good at guitar. He has such a quiet, calm demeanor … then comes out and just shreds it.
The audience was in a total trance, clutching their Strange Fellows cans staring misty-eyed at this totally unassuming guitar god. The whole band had such a laid-back vibe that you felt like they would be down to just grab a beer after the show. But alas, the show ended, cans got crushed and the roadies packed up the equipment. The M. Ward band lumbered back into their tour van, en-route to enchant another city.