On a night when a vast swathe of the population were watching a yellow bear with a polka dot scarf raise millions for Children In Need, Mattiel Brown and her band put on an anything but plain performance at Patterns in Brighton. In the low slung basement of an Art-Deco gem on Marine Parade, the Atlanta-based former farm-hand, latterly illustrator, designer and now singer-songwriter wowed the crowd with her retro-leaning rock 'n' roll tunes.
After a Canadian in a Christmas jumper looking rather like Dave Grohl's nerdy cousin had rocked out, aided and abetted by a band in varying states of Movember to tunes including 'Sleep With Me' and 'When The Sun Shines', it was a delight to welcome to the stage Mattiel. Michael Rault, the man and the band, weren't bad but neither were they, like many a support act along the way, a revelation.
Mattiel took to the stage with rather more of a finessed look. The guitarists in particular were both looking rather dapper in pressed shirts; one in a red Harrington and tight black drainpipes sporting a skinhead, the other in a Trilby, tailored jacket and pencil tie. Brown herself had an air of French Chic in her patent block heels, moleskin pants and sheer cropped blouse. Thankfully, the music as well as the outfits was right on the money.
From the get-go Mattiel and her band were tight. With a formidable percussive foundation working to atomic clock precision at the back and with both rhythm and lead guitars able to aptly deploy nuanced licks and deftly arranged flourishes, it was clear that we were witnessing a complete performance. The set had a range and mix that alternated the sound of the band and helped clearly define each of the tracks. There were elements of late sixties garage bands, New Wave, Indie and Pop throughout the evening that seemed to fly by in no time.
A large proportion of the set, as you might expect, was drawn from Mattiel's eponymous debut album. The twang of 'Count Your Blessings' scoring Brown's soulful vocal and the So-Cal, sun-soaked 'Not Today' sounded particularly suited to the acoustics of the former hotel. Mattiel introduced another of the album's highlights by way of The Searchers' 'Needles And Pins'; seamlessly switching in to 'Baby Brother' with consummate ease. A mid-set cover version was probably the biggest surprise of the evening. The Pet Shop Boys' 'West End Girls' was given a pumped-up indie make-over that really worked with remarkable results.
It was, however, Mattiel's own material played out live to great effect, and with supreme skill, that really defined the night. The driving exhilaration of 'Bye Bye', the swagger and attitude of 'Fives And Tens' and the White Stripes-like 'Detroit Riot' made sure that the privileged few who'd got tickets remained captivated and completely enthralled throughout. By the time it came to call time on the main set it was clear that here was an artist who may be in the fledgling years of her musical career but one that has an enormous talent that will undoubtedly give rise to much more creativity in the future.
The thumping Glam-Rock beat of 'Whites Of Their Eyes' closed out the main set before a two-track encore that was more than enthusiastically requested by a baying crowd eager for a little more. "Y'all are crazy", Mattiel remarked as she set about the last track of the night. Brown in Brighton was more brilliant than beige on a night when she showcased a vivid and arresting talent.
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