The Lazy Gramophone and Matt Corby at The Old Queens Head

A last minute decision led to my attendance at The Old Queens Head on Sunday. A quiet pub in Islington, the atmosphere would be best described as sparsely intimate. I arrived just as a girl was finishing a talk about journalism and was a little disappointed I hadn’t arrived ten minutes earlier to hear the whole thing. Unknown to me, I’d stumbled into The Lazy Gramophone. Combining live music, talks, poetry and videos, I’m led to believe it’s a regular occurrence demonstrating the vibrancy and diversity of the community.

Highlights of the showcase included Mat Lloyd who performed poetry which had been animated into videos which had a huge impact. The first of the two videos, Blokes, was used as part of a charity campaign to raise awareness of suicide in young males, whilst the latter spoke of gang violence. My other favourite was “One eighth of Fleur De Lis”, Bleu Mae, and her thirteen year old guitarist. Opening with an Oasis cover then playing three of her own songs and Usher’s OMG she really showed off her vocal talents. And as for her guitarist? My sister was clearly envious of how cool he was and we’re planning to make our ten year old brother half as suave as he was.

The reason I’d come to this random pub, in a random borough of London, was to see former Australian Idol contestant Matt Corby. Likened to Bon Iver and about to embark on a national Australian tour with Mumford and Sons, I had high expectations. Vocally he definitely surpassed these. His soft vocals and guitar playing created haunting sounds that stunned the room into silence. Saying that, it wouldn’t have taken much to silence the crowd, the room at most housed twenty eight people including Matt himself plus the venue staff. Perhaps not the easiest crowd to play to, I felt that Matt looked a bit uncomfortable and hence he barely interacted with the audience.

Whilst his vocals shone, it must be said that his songs were his weakness. I know he’s a songwriter, but I’d have loved to have seen a cover thrown into his half hour set to see if he could perform something a bit more charismatic. My sister who I’d dragged along whispered to me “He’s like Mumford and Sons – Only not catchy” and I can’t really disagree. Letters was the highlight of the set as, for me, it was the only track that came into its own with a distinctive and memorable chorus. Ending with Kings, Queens, Beggars and Thieves I couldn’t help but feel that Matt had a lot more to offer. Maybe it was the venue and lack of crowd that was his downfall, but his stage presence did not match the high quality of his voice.

He’s playing at some big venues in Australia, including the Enmore in Sydney which is huge in comparison to the top room of a pub. I just hope that he bounces off that kind of crowd and lets himself go a bit. All in all, I’d like to end this on a positive note: His vocals were outstanding and you should definitely check him out for some chilled out tunes!

The Old Queens Head, Islington
Sunday 13th June


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