Tonight would be a night of indie-folk music galore, but it would also be a night of thousands of screaming teenage fangirls. I was bracing myself to work out which of the two would be more overwhelming.
Our opener Bree Tranter also happens to perform in our headliner’s band and used to be part of indie darlings The Middle East. Now busting out to do her own thing, we’re given a showcase of some of Tranter’s ethereal and wispy songs off her debut EP, Jaws. It’s a little bit like MS MR or Florence and The Machinem with some Sarah McLachlan thrown in.
There’s elements of electro and synth stuff sliding in and out and around the guitars and drums, whilst Tranter’s voice comes rushing to the forefront. I generally am quite fussy with my female vocalists, and I did find it difficult to determine some of the lyrics in Tranter’s higher range. It’s generally a pleasant wistful performance though and the little over half-way full Hordern Pavilion audience is beginning to get a little antsy.
We had a little while longer to wait though, as a bunch of British lads called Bear’s Denm who look like truckers but sound like Mumford and Sons mashed together with Crosby Stills Nash and Young and Snow Patrol came out to play some songs. It’s sometimes amusing when what you hear doesn’t match with what you see, lead singer and guitarist Andrew Davieresembles Dallas from City and Colour and his voice is not too dissimilar either. They play us some tracks off their first EP, Agape, one of which includes the song “Mother”, which is more like an Irish ode with Joey Haynes’ banjo playing and waltzing beat. The first single off their forthcoming release Without/Within is titled “Sahara” and we’re treated to some luscious vocal harmonies from the three piece as it soars to a roaring crescendo. These guys definitely won over a good chunk of the audience with their harmonious singing and fervent performance.
Our main man Matt Corby finally graced the stage at a touch after 9:30pm; the screaming from the young female audience which probably made up about 90% of the room was deafening and practically drowned out most of the opening song. We’re then lead down a path of storytelling courtesy of Corby’s delicate songwriting which contrasts against his emotive and powerful performance. “Made Of Stone” is eerily like an aural dreamscape of guitars and keys and throbbing bass. His enormous hit “Resolution” causes the crowd to erupt, as it features fairly early into the set. With almost every single one of his bandmates grabbing a drum stick to bash on the additional drums that were wheeled out, the booming echoing off the walls. Annoyingly though, from my seat, the first dozen rows of people on the floor, every second person was holding up their phones or digital cameras filming the song and creating a twinkling little sea of backlit technology. Honestly people, put the damn thing down and actually live in the moment and enjoy it.
One of the things that surprised me the most with this show was how grandiose and enormous Corby’s voice is. There’s primal, animalistic wailing and guttural noises coming out of this young bearded man onstage and it fills up every single corner of the venue. It’s actually quite different to what we are treated to on his recorded EP’s, which seem more like a tiny glimpse into the ostentatious sounds we’re being delivered tonight. “Brother” is another heart-stopping song that gets the audience singing and clapping along, but the surprise was when he switches things up and plays “A Love That Keeps Me Waiting” in solo acoustic mode and there’s a few brief moments where you could potentially hear a whisper in that big room.
Just before the encore, we’re treated to an intriguing soul/funk/blues number “Trick of the Light”, where Corby cracks out a beatbox jam session using a loop pedal and it’s electrifying. Over the course of the last few years, Corby’s star has been burning strongly, and with more sold out performances under his belt it’s only set to get even brighter. I’d never had the privilege of seeing Jeff Buckley perform live, but I’ve seen recordings of him and Corby’s performance is strikingly similar, it’s a little disarming, but it’s nice to have somebody in this generation bringing achingly beautiful, emotive and enigmatic live music to the masses.