By Holli Harms
You know it’s going to be a PARTEE’ when half the audience is in their ugly and not so ugly Christmas sweaters, a few Hannukkah sweaters mixed in, reindeer headpieces, and Santa hats, festive drinks at the ready. All of that holiday spirit assembled together at Chelsea Table and Stage to see Matt Doyle and his band The Whiskey 5. All were there to share in Doyle’s compelling, reflective, joyful, holy night of rockin’ round the Christmas tree and spreading holiday cheer to all in his presence, many diehard fans. My table companions were such fans and let me know that I was in for a treat. They were not wrong. By the end of the evening, an end that came too quick for me, Doyle had me ready for my next Matt Doyle and The Whiskey 5 set.
Will Van Dyke composer and pianist arranged the songs for the evening, many of them Christmas classics and some not so classic. Doyle’s voice, his presence on stage, was pure heaven! He hits and holds notes like water cascading down a waterfall. There is no push to his voice, no vocal antics, it simply is there ready to explore the sounds and moods of each song.
He opened the evening with Let it Snow! Let it Snow! a traditional song to start the sleigh ride that instantly put the room in the mood. A great start and then we slid into some of Van Dyke’s compositions of long-established works, I Saw Three Ships and Do You Hear What I Hear melded together in one composition, one song as if the lyrics are speaking to one another. Fabulous!
Gordon Lightfoot’s A Winter’s Night is not often considered a Christmas song but Doyle wanted to bring in nondenominational songs, which as he said, are tough to find, and Lightfoot’s song he felt fit the bill. Matt also invited some friends from the audience to join him on stage. Alex Finke who worked with him in Sweeney Todd came up for a duet.
My personal favorite of Doyle’s reimagining was Joni Mitchell’s River, “I wish I had a river I could skate on.” Remembrance of lost love, young love, and a reminder that this time of year is not joyful for all.
Interspersed between the songs Doyle tells stories of family and friends, mostly stories of his Italian grandmother, Nana. Doyle is a master of storytelling, he is just so relaxed and personable. It’s as if we are all in his home, sitting with him at his table enjoying the company.
He ended the evening with Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You and closed with all of us singing together Auld Lang Syne.
The evening was an anthem to the season in this time of mistletoe, of good cheer and love, and yes ugly sweaters. Put it on your calendar in November to check and see where Doyle is performing next year. It’s a must.
CHELSEA TABLE + STAGE is located at 152 West 26th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues), downstairs inside the Hilton New York Fashion District.
Tickets for all Events HERE
“CHELSEA TABLE + STAGE opens the doors to hospitality, entertainment, and enjoyment every night, featuring state-of-the-art sound and lighting, a 10-seat in-theatre bar, lofted VIP mezzanine for private groups, and table seating for the perfect date night. The ever-changing menu and entertainment schedule means guests never have the same night twice.”
There is not a bad seat in the house. Truly!