Scott Mathews - The Life Café  Manchester - 13.9.06

My old nan had a saying; ‘Midlands born, Midlands bred; blues in the heart and folk in the head’. The personification of this saying, Scott Mathews cuts a proud figure relaxing onto a chair and clutching his acoustic guitar, as he takes a comforting glance around the nigh on full room. Then he throws his most hearty and searching folk/blues offering, ‘The Wasp And The Jar’ into the air, touching Adem territory ever so delicately. This is hidden by B-side status usually, but it serves as a reflective and potent grinder tonight, with the soul-bearing lyrics poetically piercing minds. The first snippet from the soul-bearing debut album ‘Passing Strangers’ is an aching one, ‘Fools Fooling Himself’ and it is befitting of the stripped down status. Mathews uses this song to display a life-bearing maturity, coming out through the lyrics and the slow bending guitar accompaniment that seems to be catching up with the lolloping vocal gait of Mathews, all the time.

It is intriguing to discover that the most brazen blues leanings, incorporating a vibrant and restless jam fuelled element, is almost an afterthought and is not even close to attaining recorded status. This is according to its humble, dry humoured writer, who entertains us with playful, between song quips all evening. A motto for all blues lovers and performers is espoused with integrity and sincerity in the captivating slow building ‘Bad Apple’, as Mathews' troubled nature comes out from his laid back, but forceful Jeff Buckley styled vocal projection;

         “Stagnate with infested regret.”

They really should sell t-shirts with that printed on; you would even stand out at a Radiohead gig sporting one of those! The pace picks up when the main man, to the delight of gatherers, harmonicas his way into Bob Dylan territory, after a false start that is met with wry humour from Mathews and puts a cherry on top of his entertaining ways. The main part of proceedings culminates in a stirringly performed version of the popular single, ‘Elusive’. Mathews promises to return with the full band very soon and their omission was put down to “political reasons’, but the night was made all the more personal and intimate due to its solo nature.

David Adair

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