63. Give Matt Corby a second chance

20 02 2012

My camera is completely inept at taking photos at gigs. Yes, my camera. Not me.

Last night I saw Matt Corby’s sold out gig at The Corner Hotel in Richmond. The review below is an edited version of my review for Timber and Steel.

This was Matt Corby’s second chance to impress me. 

A year and a half ago, in the upstairs of a pub in Islington, North London, I went along to watch Matt Corby perform a free gig. There were, at most, twenty people in the room (including Corby and a bartender) and I left in awe of Corby’s vocals but feeling underwhelmed at his songs and lacklustre stage presence. (If you’re really keen, you can read this original review here)

Fast forward to February 2012 and I’m on the other side of the world at the first of five sold out shows at a venue with a capacity of around 850. I’d convinced Lucy to join me on account of his attractiveness and we headed off on a less eventful journey to East Melbourne than on Thursday. At this point, I should probably note that The Corner Hotel is seemingly in the world’s hottest venue. No joke, someone fainted in the encore. This was going to be a sweaty concert.

It’d be fair to say 2011 was Corby’s year. “Brother” was the song that was to be his big break and ultimately earn him the bronze medal equivalent in Triple J’s Hottest 100.

Tonight he casually strolls onto the stage; The theatrical red curtains open with smoke machines and lighting creating the kind of atmosphere one wouldn’t normally associate with an acoustic guitarist. As he begins with “Made of Stone”, I immediately fear this second chance was undeserved. Yet again, his vocals are faultless but there’s something missing.

It’s only when he bursts into his second song with the backing of the whole band that I realise how wrong I was.

By the time he plays his third song – a track he introduces as “a song that you might recognise” – I’m completely charmed. As he ramps up the tempo and the volume for the bridge of “Brother” it becomes clear that the more attitude Corby displays, the more enjoyable his performance is.

The set continues with a few solo performances and Corby’s clever rendition of The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy” which the crowd reacts well to.

Alone with his loop pedal, Corby records his softer notes before layering on harsher vocals to create something pretty special. But I still think I prefer his performance when accompanied by his band – the addition of a drummer particularly enhanced the songs.

Finishing with an encore of “Kings, Queens, Beggars and Thieves” – a song I vaguely remember from my first encounter with Corby – the improvement is immeasurable.

The boy I saw back then appeared awkward, uncertain and lacking. Tonight I saw a confident man, oozing stage presence and clearly adored by the packed out crowd.