Kerry Meech 23/09/2006
To imagine a world without male singer/songwriters is to imagine the impossible; such is the influx of new 'talent' year after year that we have finally ended up in a world where songs as nauseating as 'You're Beautiful' are allowed to exist. However, it's not all bad, for every Blunt, Nutini and Cullum there is always a Joseph Arthur or Rufus Wainwright ready to inject a bit of originality into what has become a marketplace for weepy balladry. Finally, Scott Matthews is receiving the recognition he well deserves with his Radio One endorsed 'Elusive', but will it prove to be his downfall too?
The Point is a quietly eerie venue which is fitting for Matthews's music as it has been described by many to consolidate the mystique of the late, great Jeff Buckley with the otherworldliness of Nick Drake, high praise indeed. The audience picked up on this vibe straight away so when Matthews coolly walked onto the stage he was greeted by 100 crossed legged adults sitting on the sticky floor. Beginning his set with 'Wasp In a Jar' Matthews quickly moved from what many imagined him to be, the sombre songwriter, into a surprisingly funny guy who likened his appearance to that of a 10 year old boy. The mood soon changed with the introduction of some intense slide guitar playing which accompanied Son of Dave-esque blues track 'Last Dance', a track which left the audience mesmerised by the demonic possession taking place in front of them.
For much of the gig Matthews demonstrated an uncanny vocal resemblance to folk loyalty, Nick Drake, although I doubt Nick Drake ever exclaimed mid-set “I'm sorry I haven't got a band but I'm shit at organising things”. At times you could have easily mistaken some of his more melancholy songs for those of Buckley's masterpiece album 'Grace', in fact some of the eastern sounding riffs Matthews used sounded identical to those introducing 'Dream Brother'. Nonetheless his 'borrowing' of certain familiar chord progressions did not hamper the uniqueness of his sound, a sound very much indebted to his ethereal voice which has helped to distance himself from the current trend of other singer/songwriters.
Throughout the set the audience were treated to tracks both old and new but it was obvious that many had purchased tickets solely on hearing 'Elusive', a haunting song which sees Matthews utilize the full range of his voice. Introducing the song as “The one I'm beginning to like again” 'Elusive' sounded all the more emotional due to the amazing cello-like noise Matthews was able to produce with his vocals - needless to say there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
Fortunately it would seem that Mr Matthews is one lucky guy if his songs on his new album are as good as his live performance suggests they are, some even better 'Elusive'; perhaps then the myth of the proverbial dead albatross is just that, a myth. We'll have to wait and see.