Live Review: Matt Corby – The Forum Theatre, Melbourne

In 2007 a baby-faced Matt Corby impressed judges of the talent show Australian Idol with his acoustic rendition of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition. Despite not winning the show he has become an idol in his own right. Guys want to be him. Girls want to see him naked.

Matt Corby live review

Corby’s song ‘Brother’ has been a summer anthem down here, with the infectious “oooh ooh ooh, oooh oooh ooooh” from the song’s intro on loop in the heads of all those who listen to the radio. It would be a marvel if there wasn’t an Australian who hadn’t heard this song, even more of a wonder if they hadn’t belted out the chorus at some point.

It’s no great surprise then that of each of his Winter Tour shows, have all sold out. Even after adding extra dates the demand heavily outweighed the supply. We arrived to see support act Alpine complete a stellar performance which included their dream-pop single ‘Hands’. The floors of The Forum creaked under the weight and anticipation of the crowd while the faux-athenaeum amphitheatre setting, complete with stylised marble columns, roman statues, and an almost convincing twilight, star studded ceiling provided the perfect background to Corby’s music.

Corby opened with ‘Song For…’ to a hushed audience where the only sound to be heard was that of ears pricking – all the better to take in each strain, each chord, and each tremor of his voice. In succession he gave us ‘Winter’ and ‘Made of Stone‘, the latter performed with him on piano showing us that he was a musician, not just some guy from a talent show.

His voice is not really comparable to anything you’ve heard before. At first you hear his granular, husky falsetto then the music builds momentum and tension and then there’s this amazing height and resonance to his voice that is both unexpected and staggering. In my mind there is a scaled down version of the Albert Hall somewhere in his chest cavity that is creating these intense bouncing acoustics and allowing his voice to travel. He is part Bon Iver, part Ray Lamontagne but mostly raw original talent.

Corby seemed slightly nerved on stage though and intermittently interacted with the audience with some slightly awkward banter. I couldn’t blame him though, I was struggling with the audience myself and I was in amongst the throngs. While it was a packed out, sell out show the crowd was a bit flat, obviously enjoying themselves but apart from clapping they were a bit on the silent side.

I couldn’t work out whether it was just the melancholy of the music or whether this was their way of connecting with Corby. Either way I was perplexed. There was one very enthusiastic fan though who whooped and cheered and heckled (in a nice way) that I enjoyed very much.

I reference the crowd and the vibe mainly because of the gravitas behind ‘Brother’ and the eagerness I felt knowing that soon I would be hearing him perform it live. In my face, live. So, you know, excitement. At halfway, Corby launched into the song with zeal and cymbals at which point I started singing, dancing and whooping but stopped as I realised that I was maybe one out of five other people exhibiting. I just didn’t get it. I mean you knew all the words right Melbourne?

Regardless, Matt’s voice is a treat. We also heard ‘Big Eyes’, ‘June’, and ‘Souls A’Fire’ – a great load and bluesy number – before we hit the encore of My False.

Our vociferous friend in the crowd at this point declared to Matt his love for him, but that he also had to leave, but he really did love him.

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