Launching his 2017 solo tour, Scott Matthews chose the Edwardian grandeur of the Grade I listed Bath Komedia. It's eleven years since his debut album "Passing Stranger" marked him out as a composer and executor of sublimely haunting tracks. The BBC called it 2007's best-kept secret. It's ten years since he won the Ivor Novello Award for "Elusive". That we've been besieged by a legion of lesser melancholic singer-songwriters in the intervening decades and not consistently beguiled by Scott Matthews baffles me - more so after a dose of the 2017 iteration to remind me of his talent, which has eluded the mainstream for too long. The music business can definitely be fickle and unpredictable.
It's always heartening when the support act is a 'find', which is what Amy Sergeant felt like. Playing mostly her own songs in a twin-guitar arrangement with James Maltby, she came across as intense, heartfelt and humble, the highlight being the acoustic, KT Tunstall-like "Temper" which would sound excellent with a full band behind it. She took on "Losing My Religion" and Carole King's "Home Again", acknowledging that if she was going to do these songs, she'd better do them justice. She did just that.
Having just spent two months on the road in Europe with his band, Scott Matthews seemed to enjoy the contrast of being out there on his own; when I spoke to him after the gig, he talked about how playing on your own keeps you on your toes and gives you the freedom to do whatever you want. As his own lyric states, "There's nobody you can accuse/ The mirror portrays a bold truth". There's nowhere to hide, but you can be uncompromisingly yourself. And this is how he played for ninety minutes, interspersing his intense, rich vocals and precise musicianship with large slices of his own self-deprecating wryness between tracks, such as "Can we have more reverb on my guitar to cover the mistakes?" and a loveably-daft, protracted yarn about making 'f*** all' from having a song used in a French perfume commercial - all natural-seeming, not contrived. There were genuinely people present who looked like old friends who'd come for a catch-up - to see how he was getting on, as much as to hear his music.
Continue reading: Scott Matthews - Komedia, Bath 02 March 2017 Live Review