Matt Woosley

Matt Woosey, Saturday 7th March 2020, Malvern Cube

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Matt live innumerable times over the years; playing electric and acoustic sets, solo or two-tone with Dave Small, and at many album launches across the country. They’ve all been delightful evenings; some memorable, and never disappointing. But on this particular evening at The Cube, Matt and his German ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’  Band are about to summit, to plant their European flag firmly on this Everest’s peak. First up is Trevor ‘Babajack’ Steger, who takes to the stage in his own inimitable way: wine box guitar, harp, stomp and shovel-loads of grit. Trevor sweeps up a Sawdust Man, hopefully due for release later this year.

Matt and his fellow countrymen take the stage, having Anglophile Dave Small race over from an Arcadia Roots gig in Worcester, to add his deft touch to the percussion. Ralph, Michael and Lukas are joined by backing singer Daliah Scharaf, who brings a touch of glamour to their ensemble, as well as her stunning vocal. First we’re treated to a full, electric experience of some of Matt’s earlier songs, beginning with his perennial, “Cruel Disposition”, flexing those vocal cords in anticipation of the rest of the show. Written in the warm glow of finding his life partner, an expressive “One Love” breathes out, soulful and passionate.

Michael takes over for a few songs as The Michael Oertel Band, with Silas Benz behind a second drumkit, taking songs from their A Little Faith album. A throbbing rhythm leads into the blues of “Rosalie”; guitar soars while Michael lays down his lyrics: “don’t put the blame on me.” The rhythm is taken over by a funky sound as Ralph joins the band with some beautiful, honey-sweet guitar licks. This band rocks – well worth looking out for when they come back this way.

Matt settles back onstage with an acoustic feed into a bit of Fleetwood Mac! And it’s apparently his favourite song, “Dreams”, that ebbs and flows… er, dreamily, while Daliah adds a sweet touch of her delicate backing vocal. A quick switch back to punch out those “Same Old Blues”; a blast that’s filled with guitar riffs, Dave’s driving drums and Michael’s sonic keys. Same old nothing, a long way from the innumerable, generic offerings you might be accustomed to. A shift in tone moves us into an esoteric world, where choppy seas reveal a “Lighthouse”, a song that began as an Avant Garde, jazz-edged and multifaceted – dare I say it, edgy prototype.  Suffice to say it has been kneaded, carefully remoulded and cooked up into what is a, not entirely, but indefinably different ‘beastie’ altogether. Given new breadth and dimension with the aid of a band, “Lighthouse” is truly awe-inspiring, whilst retaining its Avant Garde magic, Daliah’s voice comes through, perfectly strong and grounding, as the song spirals into atmosphere, the audience united in their rapture.

“Hook, Line and Sinker”, pulls us back into rock-strewn waters. Rolling forward, “Black Smoke Rising” is on the horizon; familiar territory at a Woosey gig, and why the hell not? It must be said that drummer, Dave, must have a telepathic connection with his old drinking buddy Matt; playing games with false ends, his treatment of the drums is both deft and intimate, undoubtedly one of the finest, natural drummers around. But enough of bigging up Small, on with the show, and a gorgeous “Love Changes”. Ralph plays an equally gorgeous guitar solo, before the band light a match for the explosive “Smoke”, signing off with a bang… No bloody chance! The crowd are ecstatic and soon demanding more, there’s no denying this is Matt’s home territory – even since emigrating to Germany.

By: Graham Munn

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