Monday, 10 June 2013

Matthew E. White - 3 June 2013, Northcote Social Club

The middle of the year tends to be a pretty quiet time of the year for shows. I hadn't planned on going to this one except that I ended up with a free ticket. Even so, I was sorely tempted to skip this show - it was a rainy Monday night, it takes me a fair while to get to Northcote, and I didn't even know that much about this guy. I was also a little put off by an interview I'd read with him that mentioned he initially came to fame through his free jazz work. In the end a large part of the reason I went was that I haven't been to many shows lately; if it'd been a few months later I probably wouldn't have bothered.

The show started pretty well - attendees were greeted at the door with a free booklet with some nice artwork, a message from Matthew E White, his record company, and lyrics to all his songs (including unreleased material). It was a nice touch, particularly from a small artist who probably doesn't have a lot of cash to splash round. Of course, a nice booklet doesn't make a great show; what made this a great show was the fact this guy can sing the hell out of a bunch of songs that sound naggingly like lots of really really great music, but not so much that you can say he's simply copying someone. It didn't hurt that he comes across as a genuinely nice guy, and made a connection with the audience with his real excitement about having finally made it to a city with a suburb named Richmond (he's from Richmond, Virginia). Plus there's the great back story behind it all - the record Big Inner was only produced as a showcase for the record label/studio he'd set up with some friends, but the record become a phenomen and was picked up for broader release (garnering numerous five star reviews and record of the year plaudits). The Guardian's review of the Sydney show closed with "Those of us who were there will chalk it up as one of those birth-of-a-legend moments, and those who weren't … well, they'll be pretending they were before too long", that's a pretty good summation of Melbourne's experience too.

Will You Love Me
One of These Days
Steady Pace
Are You Ready for the Country
Big Love
Human Style
Sail Away
If You Need Me
Gone Away

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