Matt Black Band @ The Roadhouse, Birmingham – 3rd May 2012

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Review By Woody

(Image from Matt Black’s website)

I’ve never been to The Roadhouse before although I’ve heard good things about the venue. Unfortunately tonight, local traffic played havoc with the running times.

Brummies Daylight Robbery were tonight’s support band and in all the previous times I’ve seen them they have been a highly entertaining and solid band. Obviously with the late kick off they had to squeeze as much as they could into a very short time. However, it was a bad day at the office for the band though. I was a little bit shocked as the band are normally so solid and like seasoned pro’s could often pull a bad day out the fire without the crowd knowing, usually. The sound out-front actually wasn’t too bad but the onstage monitors must have been poor as singer, Tony, was visually frustrated. Tony did struggle a little vocally tonight, and with the rest of the band virtually standing on top of one another given the small stage space, they seemed to be willing the night to be over. A gig I’m sure the band will put behind them and I’m sure they’ll be back on form for a storming show at The Robin later this month!

The set-list consisted of ‘Cross Your Heart’, ‘Shame On You’, ‘Reunite’, ‘The Perfect Storm’, ‘Real Love Is The Answer’ and ‘While You Were Sleeping’.

I have seen Matt Black before in his pre-Serpentine days when his old band Invisible Idols came to JB’s in Dudley (R.I.P) a few years back. I was really impressed with him that night and was delighted when he was announced as the Serp’s new front man and felt he was the missing piece in the young band’s development. I’m really expecting the Serp’s to take it to a whole new level when their third album hits the streets!

As I was watching Matt and his solo band confidently and happily deliver some fine live music and all I could think was what an absolute crying shame it is a guy who is so unbelievably talented is playing to so few! The sound wasn’t great, but the band got on with it and did their best to deliver a great set of classic rock songs.

Matt is a natural and charismatic front man who performs with confidence, ease and flair. To top it off he has a voice born for melody and every cover song he sings he does it in his voice, there’s no mimicking, no altering of his vocal style, everything gets his stamp on it and it works unbelievably well, such is the strength of his vocal!

His band features John Hardman on guitars, Andy Scott on bass and Nigel Durham on drums. They all played with a quiet confidence and they all had an obvious easy going chemistry with one another. I was particularly impressed with Hardman who I think is going to be perfect to bring out the best in Matt’s solo music.

Matt has an album out soon called ‘Dreamcatcher’and he did slip a few originals into his shortened set. Kicking off with the driving power of ‘Running In The Dark’, slipping groove rocker ‘She’s a Wild One’ into the middle and closing with the melodic beauty of ‘If You Love Me’, which for me was the highlight of the show! Being well aware of the time restrictions they actually had a timer onstage, which Matt regularly checked as he informed us he had to drop songs to squeeze in as much as possible and not get kicked off stage mid-song! I loved how Matt introduced the song as an encore as the band obviously didn’t have time to leave and return.

The covers consisted of, Van Halen ‘Unchained’, Deep Purple ‘Hush’, Foreigner ‘Cold As Ice’, Journey ‘Separate Ways’, Dokken ‘Unchain The Night’, Rainbow ‘I Surrender’, Gun ‘Word Up’, Toto ‘Hold The Line’, Rainbow ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’, Foreigner ‘Jukebox Hero’, Def Leppard ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’. I don’t normally see cover bands but the Brummie crowd missed out on the best set of perfectly performed covers that have ever graced the Roadhouse stage. The fact it was a melodic rock heaven set-list doesn’t make my opinion biased in the slightest! I genuinely enjoyed every minute of the band’s performance.

The only negative I have is the lack of a keyboard player, the keys were supplied via backing tracks, but I would have preferred live keys. Having said that though, good rock keyboardists are rarer than rocking horse poo!

I really hope the agonisingly low turnout doesn’t put Matt off returning to the region again, but it would be totally understandable! I think a change of venue is a definite. He is an amazing talent destined for big things – you guys truly missed out!