When playing a first major headline gig in London one would have thought the natural start to a set would be a thumping, energising, crowd-pleaser and it’s fair to say Matt Corby has plenty of these in his locker. However, the gifted Australian singer-songwriter opted for the delicate Big Eyes, played alone on stage while his band waited in the wings until the second track.
The truth though is that Matt Corby needs absolutely no support. Such is his presence, such is his developing genius, that he needs little help at all. The opening was daring to say the least and the whole SCALA crowd were rendered powerless to break the captivated, pin-drop-silence that had been conjured up, leaving a few stunned seconds for good measure before giving in to raucous applause. This brave opening to the set was not in-keeping with what was to come but it was a stunning demonstration of Corby’s deftness of touch.
Next came Kings, Queens, Beggars and Thieves, an epic track which has Corby’s unique style stamped all over it. The melancholy and composed opening builds gradually throughout and it’s only in the second verse where he explodes fully into life with the lyric “I just want to be free!”
The euphoric back-half of this second track closes out patiently and Corby and his accompanying band blend it into the prolonged intro for one of his more recently penned tracks, Runaway. This tale of heartbreak and deceit brings back memories of Jeff Buckley’s iconic Grace album as the strength of Corby’s vocal is demonstrated with his howling loop-pedal falsetto providing the backdrop to his rasping, angst-ridden bursts of the agonisingly blunt chorus lyric “she don’t give a shit about you”.
There’s evidence of Buckley’s inspiration too in Brother, which to date is Corby’s most celebrated track. From a howling start to a delicate crescendo, Brother is a pulsating arena-filler if ever there was one and it’s little surprise that this dark tale of Corby’s implicit infidelity has received rave reviews as the pain and regret is tangible throughout. It’s high praise indeed to compare Corby’s exceptional vocal and song-writing abilities with someone of the late Buckley’s undoubted class, but he isn’t the only icon to whom Corby is comparable.
On tracks such as the set-closing Soul’s A Fire and another new track Gospel he brings back the spirit of soul-guitar icons such as Jimi Hendrix as he strikes his coolest pose and delivers huge, earthy notes with, for the most part, seemingly no effort at all.
It would be foolish to rank Corby’s guitar-playing skills to the god of the art, Hendrix, but it certainly isn’t a stretch to say that he oozes a similar class and coolness on occasions. Another notable comparison is Caleb Followill, whose air-splitting vocal strength is also evident in Corby’s best performances, particularly in Runaway and Brother.
Anyone who has had the pleasure of seeing Matt Corby in these formative years of what is sure to be an incredible career will surely agree that he is worthy of such comparisons and that his is a talent to be savoured.
Corby’s debut album is set for a 2013 release and it ‘s likely to be made up of the majority of his SCALA set and there’s little doubt that it will be enormously well received by critics and buyers alike.