Matt Gresham at The Islington: ‘He won’t be playing small venues for long’
- Credit: Archant
Acoustic troubadour Matt Gresham is yet another export churned out from the X Factor machine (albeit the Australian incarnation).
Whilst it is true that purists might sniff, they also might be better to park any prejudice, as it only takes a few moments into his small, low key gig at The Islington to acknowledge that Gresham has the musical chops to match any expected vocal prowess.
With a clutch of singles, Gresham is in London to bang the promotional drum – as well as the very real, lonely bass drum that lies stage left – to promote his upcoming debut album proper. It is a work that has been helmed with the assistance of London Grammar’s Jaymes Young and, in a live setting, the signs bode well.
Guitar-in-tow, he delicately etches out partial chords to form the bedrock for his confessional, heart-on-sleeve lyrics. The bass drum is no passive prop either, as his material reveals itself to be of an intriguing breadth: flipping from torch song elegy to rap-infused musical missive.
There are times when matters are a little too overwrought vocally. Sometimes less is more and, when the rapping starts, it’s hard not to make comparisons to Ed Sheeran; for all of the positive and negative connotations that may engender.
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When Gresham foregoes the microphone entirely, however, for something akin to a campfire sing song, he showcases in sobering terms the true extent of his impressive talent. He follows this up with a salute to his hero Paul Simon with a rendition of Boy in the Bubble, and his soulful tenor and nimble finger work are plain to see. He updates it, whilst also being reverent and sincere. It’s a tricky tightrope that is hard to get right.
As the main set wraps up with his latest single, Survive on Love, very few could question his pop nous. Armed with a sound that couldn’t be more “now” if it tried and an end product that is so precision made for success, Gresham will soon be shooting into the big leagues.
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He will not be playing small venues for long.