Scott Matthews may not have made the commercial inroads he deserved after his fantastic first album (Passing Stranger, 2006) but his talents were certainly noticed by the music industry bigwigs because he took the coveted prize of 'Best Song Lyrically And Musically' for single 'Elusive' at the Ivor Novello Awards.
At this Colchester gig he played a mixture of songs from his first album and some new tracks from album Elsewhere, released earlier this year. 'Dream Song' and 'City Headache' were both performed with the brilliance one would expect from a man who has probably been playing these songs day-in-day-out for the last three years. 'City Headache' sounds like a Thom Yorke/Andrew Bird track, with that eerie undercurrent and eccentric vocals which seem to underpin most of the UK's best male solo artists.
'Passing Stranger', a personal favourite, was given a new life without his band behind him. Accompanied by a harmonica, Matthews turned the track into a folk epic. 'Elusive' was dedicated to the crowd, which was much appreciated and very warmly received. Hauntingly hypnotic, subtly soporific, 'Elusive' is a song which stays with you long after you've heard it.
New songs 'Into the Firing Line' and 'Elsewhere' weren't quite as mesmerising as the material from his first album but that is often the case at gigs when the older material is so much more familiar than the newer tracks. When artists go on the road without their bands, it's true that they do tend to give more to the crowd – they interact more and they put more effort into playing their guitar as well as they can. Both of these things were true tonight. Matthews was incredibly jovial and happy to converse at length with the audience.
Matthews is undoubtedly one of the most proficient guitarists in the country. Combining that with a soulfully brilliant voice, he definitely deserves your attention.