The Opera House, Wellington
Wednesday, October 30
You could consider Australian guitarist and singer Matt Corby a rising star – except, it’s clear that with this, his first New Zealand tour, word is already out; the lights go black and there are high-pitched screams – when you can make them out it’s usually “we love you Matt”. The venue is sold-out, there is a tight squeeze of fans up the front, standing, singing back nearly every word. Matt Corby – clearly – has already arrived.
Just shy of his 23rd birthday, Corby is riding a wave of popularity thanks to his fourth EP, Into The Flame and his 2012 ARIA Song of the Year award win for Brother.
Most of his songs sound like Jeff Buckley tunes with a foot on the throat in an attempt to squeeze them into the shape of something Bon Iver might sing; the band certainly mean every note with head-nods and rockabye swaying in the spaces around Corby’s thrilling trilling.
But he certainly has chops. He can play. And when he throttles back on the throat what might one day be a serious crooner-voice emerges. There’s a hint, once or twice, of Richard Hawley. That’ll be lost on his audience who are, it has to be said, so seriously freaking out: like ohmigod!
Corby looks like a barista who might possibly collect surfing magazines. But when he gets it right he shows a certain talent. A cover version of Crosby Stills Nash & Young’s Almost Cut My Hair managed to faithfully achieve some form of psychedelic transcendence. Well, it would have if it weren’t for the fact that it received a trim, cut short just as Corby’s guitar was about to go somewhere interesting.
The chops are there, the talent is clear but his songs are, frankly absurd. Horrific. All of this stony-heart, weight-of-the-world nonsense will have to go. By then of course his core audience will have moved on to other cheekbones, to someone else nonchalantly selling elegantly dishevelled. But, even if I’m forced into an almost-whisper, Matt Corby was (kinda) quite good.
This review appeared in The Dominion Post – I’ve reposted it here on Off The Tracks due to requests from people wanting to view it online