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Matt Black @ The Roadhouse, Birmingham (3/5/12)

posted 15 May 2012, 09:50 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 15 May 2012, 09:52 ]
Review By Woody

I’ve never been to The Roadhouse before although I’ve heard good things about the venue. On the way though I got stuck in the Brum traffic which doubled my travelling time to an hour, which didn’t leave me in the best of moods initially, but it seemed the band had suffered with the same issues and arrived late so it was half nine before the gig got going!

Brummies Daylight Robbery was 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, so didn’t get the stage time they would probably have wished for. 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 so could even pull a bad day out the fire without a crowd knowing, usually. The sound wasn’t the best although not as bad as I think Tony feared, the sound coming through the onstage monitors must have been poor as Tony was visually frustrated onstage with the sound. Tony did struggle a little vocally tonight, and the rest of the band whom were virtually standing on top of one another given the very small stage space they had seemed to be willing the night to be over. A gig I’m sure the band as a whole wants to put behind them, but 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’.

Tony mentioned onstage his disappointment at the turn out, but stating he wasn’t shocked. He must have known some of those who were here though as he said I see a few people from Wolverhampton here I think we would have been better playing there! Cue some clapping and head nodding from me and with me been from Walsall it begs the question were there any Brummies in? And where the hell were all the brummie rockers! Matt had quite wisely billed himself as a rock covers act to attract passing trade and the roadhouse regulars, so the turnout was severely disappointing.

Although I’d of course be biased towards venues in the Black Country and south Staffordshire, I do feel he would be better served playing a venue like The Tackeroo or Woody’s in Cannock. At the very least given tonight’s audience those that will turn out for him won’t have to battle the Brum traffic!

I have seen Matt Black before in his pre Serpentine days as the driving force of his old band Invisible Idols, when they 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 bands development. I’m really expecting the Serp’s to take it to a whole new level when their third album hits the streets!

I have to say 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 the best, 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, 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’, which is due out later this year and he did slip a few originals into his shortened set. Kicking off the set 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! I loved how Matt introduced the song as an encore as the band obviously didn’t have time to leave and return. Been well aware of the time restrictions they had a timer onstage, I think it was an I-pad or something 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!

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 personally have is the lack of a keyboard player, the keys were supplied via backing tracks, but I would have preferred live Key’s. Having said that though, good rock keyboardists are rarer than rocking horse poo nowadays. Although they would have had very little room to move with a keyboard player on this small stage, so maybe he was just chilling with some jazz mags in the dressing room so the others would have more elbow room onstage!

Not sure what to think of the venue at the moment, I think the real opinion tester will be when Ten & Serpentine play there later this month. If I’m honest I found the gig room a little claustrophobic and I’m worried the stage will not be big enough to home all the stage equipment the Ten and Serps are going to need.

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. An amazing talent destined for big things you guys truly missed out!