Sometimes when reviewing gigs that aren’t particularly great, you’re left not knowing what to say. It can be incredibly difficult to find the words to summarise a musician’s work that you can’t relate to or simply have no interest in, and to subjectively break down their art on a public platform. Some things just can’t be explained the way they should be to people who weren’t there to witness it, or feel it. Similarly, it can be just as hard to find the words to express how breathtakingly beautiful a performance is.
Matt Corby is no stranger to the public, having been thrust into the national spotlight as a fresh faced 16 year old on Australian Idol. Fans have watched him grow and develop as an artist independent to his mainstream start over the past nine years, so there really is no surprise that his hometown show at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre was garnished with tremendous support. Illness saw the singer-songwriter cancel his previously planned Sydney show last month – a mere 15 minutes before he was supposed to take to the stage – so this was a chance for Corby to redeem himself, and redeem himself he did.
There are many reasons why this particular show was one of the best live performances I’ve ever been lucky enough to witness: a voice so commanding it effortlessly filled the room, an adoring audience hanging off every note and luminous, whimsical backdrops, to just name a few. Everything about the night felt warm and organic from the moment Corby appeared on stage and graced us all with the sweet tune of Belly Side Up. His voice has a heart-stopping range that has you plunged down into rich, deep tones before being flown right back up again in a breath of heavenly falsetto. Knife Edge and Do You No Harm showcased the man’s storytelling abilities, along with a few flute solos and some lively scatting.
Corby has come a long way since his first collection of folksy releases, with his latest offering Telluric presenting a far more mature style. Acapella single Monday was a prime example of the artist’s raw talent, using just himself and a loop pedal to create achingly beautiful harmonies. New material went down extremely well considering the album was only released two months ago and Corby looked more at home on stage than ever before, maintaining his signature earthy quality but with a bluesy edge thrown in. That being said, Resolution (2013) had an almost tribal feeling about it – tearing open like a wild life and proving to be an obvious standout with the crowd grasping onto every word. Brother, however, sounded great production-wise but felt a little flat compared to the rest of the emotive set.
The conclusion of every song was met with thunderous applause, which was a stark contrast to how quiet the venue was during the middle of each acapella song. Both Corby and the audience fed off each other, sharing both moments of intimate pain and moments of sheer clarity and optimism. Little talking was done throughout the set, aside from a short apology about having to cancel the last show; this didn’t matter though. A triple edged sword of Why Dream, Empires Attraction and a cover of Sam Cooke’s 1964 A Change Is Gonna Come rounded off the night, making up the bittersweet encore we knew would inevitably come.
It’s near impossible to describe Matt Corby’s other-worldy talents without having heard them yourself. His shows sell out quickly for a reason but if you’re lucky enough to grab tickets it’ll be a performance you won’t forget any time soon.