It was almost a full year since I had seen Mr Matthews on stage, last time in the elegant surroundings of Birmingham Town Hall, and this time in the slightly less plush Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton (yes, yes, THAT Slade, being Wolverhampton lads as they were). Now the Slade Rooms is not a big venue, 550 when filled to the gunwales, so IDS and I were determined to get to the front even though Mrs H-C and Mrs IDS clearly thought we were off our heads. But front row positions we got, placing us a few feet from the minute stage (we saw the sainted Idlewild here a few months back – extraordinary on such a tiny stage)
Tonight two supports were… well… ‘supporting’ Mr Matthews; fist up Jo Karchud, metaphorically naked save for his acoustic guitar and his voice. I understand Mr Karchud (of course a native of Wolverhampton) is relatively freshly divorced from his former band Bridge 55 and is now striking out on his own. He gave a good account of himself in the brief time that he had, although I have to say he looked ever so slightly terrified, perhaps a cunning ruse to endear himself to the ladies (it worked just fine on Mrs IDS!). His material is of course on Myspace (urgh hideous new Myspace) and on Reverbnation.
James Summerfield filled a now familiar support position for Scott Matthews, and he has always proved a good songstrel before, with his diffidence and relaxed good humour. This time around he came replete with band – drummer, keys (and tinkly xylophone), bass and steel guitary thing on a stand (bound to be a technical term there somewhere). The sound let him down a little tonight I thought but it seems to me that a band context might well take his songs to a new place, a bit beefier and filled-out. They are saving their pennies hopefully to record a new album over the summer, and lets hope it all comes together for them.
Mr Matthews too was ‘with band’ tonight – the excellent Greg (sorry don’t know his last name) on lap steel guitar, the rather fine drumer that helped our with James Summerfieldand a basist in the stygian gloom of the right hand side of the stage. There is an undoubted joy about hearing Matthews solo and being able to identify every single note and sound, but equally with a band you get the fuller sound redolent of the albums, the more complex layers of sound around the exquisite songs.
The set was the mix of the first two albums of course, but bookended with two new songs from the forthcoming (if March/April is ‘forthcoming’) album. The opener titled Head on the set list (for the life of me I can’t remember the full title) was a delicate beauty with just a little lap steel for accompaniment – if this is the sort of stuff we can expect from the next album it will be a welcome return to a perhaps more parred down style.
Its impossible to pick out particular highlights because the set was nothing short of a collection of many of my favourite songs, all ably supported by the excellent band. The set ended with another new song, Ballerina Lake, which also bodes well for the next album. The encore was the superb Elusive, played solo.
Just to add fuel to the suspicions of Mrs H-C and Mrs IDS that we are nowt but a pair of foolish and ageing groupies, IDS and I hung back at the end and prised a set list from the technician. Rather generously he volunteered to get it signed by the maestro himself bringing another signed relic to the collection of IDS.
Scott Matthews music never fails to delights and so it did tonight; here’s hoping that a new album in the spring will herald a tour and another chance to hear his excellent playing of this most evocative music.
some pix courtesy of @IDSupremo