REVIEW: Scott Matthews @ The Glee Club (Birmingham), Apr 7th

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Words by EdKing

Selling out faster than a Nick Clegg eulogy, Scott Matthews opens his 6 date April tour at The Glee Club in Birmingham – squeezing in four more shows before the finale at The Glee’s Nottingham club on April 28th.

It’s a little strange, a crowd of smug faces packed into the Studio on a Sunday – but an honest air of excitement bumbles about the room.

Katherine Priddy is supporting, playing a short set of her mellifluous trad flavoured Folk, and appears as eager as the rest of us. The bar rumbles, the lights hover; chairs itch and scratch across the weathered wooden floor. Even the tannoy seems unable to make a decision (the bar’s closing/open when???).

Nerves are encroaching… we are the first audience to hear songs from Scott Matthews’ forthcoming fourth studio album, and a swell of anticipation fills the small room. I sip my second large bourbon, shield my notebook against my left leg, and scribble – ‘I hope this is good’.

Scott Matthews clicks into the microphone, “to find the sweet spot”, and proffers an affable “hello”.

Opening with ‘Virginia’, a slow to fast finger picking lullaby lament – we get the low voice and yearning melody that sat in the background of ‘Passing Stranger’. I drop my shoulders. Either a smile or a grin makes itself known on my face.

A quick and dubious sponsor endorsement preludes ‘Drifter’, 12 steel strings driving chords a full band will no doubt shortly follow – before a stripped back version of ‘Eyes Wider Than Before’. I catch myself mouthing the words, a self congratulatory expression I would usually snarl at in others, and realise I’m more drunk or nostalgic than I was on arrival.

‘So Long My Moonlight’ gets the 6 string acoustic back on stage, and stands as tonight’s sole representation of Matthews’ last LP, before “the song with no title”  introduces a faster tempo and mainly new material until the end of the set.

There are some rough edges on stage, and all without a Jon Cotton flourish, but tracks such as ‘Dream Angel’ and Matthew’s opening song, ‘Virginia’, are genuinely exciting.

‘Elsewhere’ and ‘What the Night Delivers’ each had their moments, but remain (for me) overshadowed by Matthew’s spectacular debut – and the Ivor Novello spectre still clinging to its ankles. But as tonight’s set draws to its close, and ‘Elusive’ gets an almost hackneyed encore outing, I’m increasingly intrigued to hear album four played in full.

And as the ‘roadtest’ will no doubt continue over the summer’s festival stages, I imagine there’ll be a few more samples before its “October release”.

Or at least 70 loquacious whispers of “…I saw him at The Glee Club back in April” across the Moseley Folk Festival.

Scott Matthews plays at The Glee Club in Nottingham on Aprilo 28th. For more details on this, and other gigs at The Glee Club, visit http://www.glee.co.uk/

For more on Scott Matthews, visit http://scottmatthewsmusic.co.uk/

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