Scott Matthews

Do you ever wonder why some experiences stay with you 0for a long time yet others are forgotten the very moment they end? Well I’m still pondering that very question since attending Town Hall, Birmingham to see Scott Matthews play on Sunday night. For me I’d been looking forward to the gig for a while, and yet with some quite high expectations I was niggled; niggled that the live performance might not live up to his two recorded albums ‘Passing Stranger’ and this year’s release ‘Elsewhere’. Or that his live persona would be haunted by comparisons to the likes of Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley.

First support this evening was from the great local boy James Summerfield. He is easy to like with an easy going nature and catchy folk tunes. At one point he asked to be excused so that he could retrieve the correct harmonica, as the one he was trying to play wasn’t the correct tune. A few moments go by and rummaging under the stage curtain ensues, and he’s back to serenade us with his sweet tweets. Definitely worth a look and listen in 2010.

James Summerfield

Main support is from Jo Hamilton. Jo’s critically acclaimed ‘Gown’ album (with 4-star reviews in Mojo, The Indepedent, Rock ‘n’ Reel and themusiccritic.co.uk) is a beautiful mixture of swooping vocals and harmonious guitar and delicate percussion.

Jo Hamilton

Like a musical equivalent of a fine mist, her tunes gradually filled the beautifully restored Town Hall, Birmingham (a lovely white space with elaborate ceilings adorned with plaster shields and armoury) with a lightness that I don’t think I’ve heard the likes of before. A wonderful prelude to the main act I thought. By her own admission, if this is how she performs when she has a cold, crikey she must be powerful firing on all cylinders. Again, look her up. I am sure you’ll be impressed.

Jo Hamilton

Pondering what may lay in-store for us now, I was drawn back to look ahead of me only to see a tall wiry figure of a man silently enter on stage from the left. The shape before me, eyes cast down; mop of hair casting a dark shadow across his brow picked up an acoustic guitar from an array of instruments littered across the stage.

Scott Matthews

The man was Scott Matthews, and he began to play in such a quiet and unassuming way that, for a moment I had to ask myself if he had actually begun at all or, if I was imagining it. I felt like a voyeur; he seemed unselfconsciously alone up there as if he hadn’t noticed there was an audience, and that the rest of the band had appeared to have jumped ship. I was fascinated, drawn in, Matthews gave no clues away of what was to come, and I became completely absorbed by him. By halfway through the first song hooked and enthralled.

Then, like an alarm clock shaking me awake, a white haired gentleman next to me called out “Gooo on Scott!” in the same way you might hear someone cry for their beloved football team. The crowd laughed and Matthews declared “I think that’s my Dad”, and indeed it was, along with, it would appear a variety of relations from the Matthews team.

Scott Matthews

He carried on and by the third song he was joined on stage by his backing band, (who would appear and reappear at various stages of the show). Matthews now picked up an electric guitar and cried “Judas!” to the laughing crowd. This guy is funny, really funny I thought… I liked Matthews and that counted for allot, but the self effacing humour from Matthews was just part of his charm.

“Into The Firing Line” was welcome track from his new 2009 album “Elsewhere”. Floydesque in places, building up into explosions of sound; a very strong and emotive track showing the strength of Matthews vocal abilities.

Tracks go by and Matthews was in his element, and it becomes clear from that was not only affecting the eager crowd, but also the on-stage sound technicians who found it almost impossible not to bop and groove in-time with the flow of Matthews licks. Halfway through, Matthews and his band reached a great crescendo and then falls away to nothing leaving the crowd in suspended animation, breathless… I exhaled the word “Wow!” as if to answer the question left hanging by Matthews. The crowd erupts, followed swiftly by the band.

Now it’s “City Headache” and I am almost dancing on my seat, what madness!

“Up on the hill” is injected with a humorous interlude from the seated organist/”tap-dancer” as Matthews put it, as he clip-clops at his seat. It’s now very clear that Matthews and the band have lost all inhibition and it’s a beautiful, absorbing thing to be party to.

Scott Matthews

“Jagged Monday” half way through the performance and Matthews is once again alone on stage. Bathed in orange light a lone figure playing quiet guitar, I’m drawn to the pure artistry of his playing which seems to be generating the sound of several guitars all at once. Mesmerising.

Scott Matthews

The whole set it has to be said is flawless, finalised with a quiet rendition of “Elusive” Matthews tour de force, the song no doubt many have been waiting for and which is dedicated simply “To Jo” a friend who had sadly passed away recently.

Matthews leaves the stage lifting his never ending glass of brandy to the audience, only minutes after his father had shouted “Gerrit dowan yom ah kid!” and “Put sam warter in it!” I think I’d like Dr. Pappa Matthews as my doctor! ;o)

After rapturous applause (by this time my hands are now hurting from all the clapping) he returns again to the stage to play two more songs and the crowd whistle like birds in appreciation.

I was impressed by Matthews’ ability to let go of the lead role at times to the other performers, and in my mind this won him more the glory by doing so. By doing this it became clear to me that I was not watching an ‘ego’ on stage here but a musician and creative through and through. Matthews managed to produce a humble, but yet at the same time thoroughly exciting performance the likes of which is rarely seen.

Any comparisons to other artists in a similar vein were left behind it’s true by the end of the first song, never to return. This is an artist that has truly come into his own and in the words of his own father, “Go on Scott!”

Words by Sara Reynolds
Photos by Wayne Fox, email me.

One Response to “Scott Matthews + Jo Hamilton + James Summerfield @ Town Hall, Birmingham – 11 December 2009”

  1. Gig Reviews | Gig Photography | Interviews | Competitions from Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » Scott Matthews @ Town Hall, Birmingham, UK – 1 December 2012 Says:

    […] Scott tells us that “this is the first time that I have supported myself” reminding us just how funny he can be – Something I observed back in 2009 when I first reviewed him for Gig Junkies. […]

Leave a Reply