Review: Matt Corby @ Gorilla, Manchester

Matt Corby had been billed to me as ‘Sam Smith meets James Bay and Ed Sheeran’.

Matt Corby – with all due respect – is none of those things.

As R.W. Grace left the stage following a crowd-pleasing rendition of Robyn’s Dancing on My Own, there was a tangible sense of anticipation for the 25-year-old’s arrival among the packed out Gorilla crowd.

Nonchalantly taking the stage, Corby was greeted with rapturous applause before he’d even had chance to warm up his loop station.

As he began, it seemed almost anachronistic to consider that Corby’s on-stage narrative started at the tender age of 16, when he finished as a runner up in Australian Idol.

His hair is longer now and his voice more powerful, easily able to fill a room without the need for the loop effects or the band that went on to accompany him once he’d finished Monday.

But the band elevate the performance to something that – as clichéd as it might sound – feels special in a way that I would expect from an acoustic set rather than an electric one.

As Corby made his way through his set, rarely stopping to talk to the crowd yet holding everyone attentive regardless, his storytelling was as strong as his vocal chords.

What is perhaps most impressive about the Sydney-born musician, is his ability to pace.

As soon as you think his voice is about to settle, it bursts again – pulling the crowd in further before they’ve even had chance to sense the lull.

Resolution and Brother proved to be, somewhat predictably, two of the bigger songs of the night.

They’re as hit song sing-along as Corby gets – mostly, it feels like the crowd is happy for the music to wash over them.

Despite how impressive his own material is, it was his interpretation of A Change Is Gonna Come that was the real kicker.

It isn’t every day that you hear a Sam Cooke cover – it’s even less often that you hear it played as masterfully as Corby manages.

There were moments in the night that could have easily felt gimmicky.

The loop pedal has become ubiquitous over recent years, often to the detriment of the music itself. Even Corby’s vibrato had the potential to feel forced.

But – and perhaps it’s something to do with his remarkably unimposing stature or the cultural stereotypes we attach to Australians – at no point did his performance ever feel unauthentic.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

The set comes to its end and as much as the crowd want him to, Corby doesn’t play an encore.

Why would he? He’s not Sam Smith.

Image courtesy of exiteverything via YouTube, with thanks.

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