The spotlight fills the dark center of stage and the silhouette of a young man. Matt Corby, cool as ever under pressure, begins clicking out the slow wave backbeat of Belly Side Up and in the time it takes him to reach the bridge, his uncanny voice and depth of presence has beguiled the crowd and all are under his spell. The room is a wash of slowly swaying figures in harmony, goose bumps spreading through the space. The music is so alive and his voice so rich and vital.
As I looked across the Enmore Theatre at his stark figure in that bright halo of light, it occurred to me to be the perfect representation of him at this moment in time – suddenly in the glare of the whole world, all eyes on him, and keeping the beat and never missing it, relaxed and sage, just doing his thing. In his quiet way, telling the stories that ache and mend, and intoxicating an entire room with his honesty and soulfulness.
At his one and only performance at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney, Matt Corby was an angelic, at the top of his game, and eager to disperse his astonishing reservoir of talent.
It’s an energy that swells throughout the whole performance, and as I always liken his music to, giving the pervading feeling of a kind of eternal dusk. Listening to the album is a pleasure, with the sunset beats and lazy drifting perfection of melodies lapping against his salt-tinged grainy vocals that have the ability to open wounds and instantly soothe them.
But live, that sense of water, of renewal, of hope, of disappointment, is so imminent, so real, so thirsty. As he begins traveling across each track of his debut full length Telluric, the mood vibrates and the motif of current, movement, electricity, and something coastal and cool grows stronger. Monday, Knife Edge, Oh Oh Oh, Wrong Man, Sooth Lady Wine and Do You Know Harm, really get to the heart of things and appear to be already well-loved by fans.
I cut a glance around me and see the response to that feeling and contentment that reaches out from him and pulls a person in. People staring or eyes shut, all smiling, letting the music wash over them. There’s an old man dancing feverishly while nearby young lovers embrace, best friends swoon over Corby’s disheveled elegance. His music stirs people, whether for hearts to pound or hands to reach out to entwine for the first time in the dark of a concert.
Telluric offers a sexuality and sensuality that is true to the best of old soul, in the vein of Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and Percy Sledge. All of whom had a haunting, affecting knack for simple, heart-touching storytelling paired with melodic poignancy.
Corby’s choice to sing two songs from 2011’s Into the Flame – Souls A’fire and Brother – showcased his diverse sound as well as the more bluesy leanings to his sound, reminding us of where he started, which gives a beautiful and impressive parallel to enjoy in the context of his latest material.
Matt Corby is spooky – seeing him deliver the goods live is going to stay with me for a long time. The complexity of his voice and the detailing abundant in each song is even more transcendent to see live, as he walks us through articulate, low-lit frames of misunderstandings and desire without discord or a sense of lacking narrative, each song melted into the next. The sand breaks away between your toes and your left reeling.
“Thanks for having me Sydney,” he murmurs softly, once again in the stark black of the stage and confronting puddle of bright-white light. Then, he is gone. We are the ones who are thankful to have had his brilliance.