Matt Walters – Northcote Social Club, 12th of May

When you think of Melbourne it’s pretty difficult to bring up the cultural scene without mentioning High Street. Whether it is to talk about the bustling bar scene or the open mic nights scattered about Northcote and Thornbury it’s never disputed that it’s a cultural Mecca. And if there is one venue that can sum up the vibe of Melbourne it is The Northcote Social Club. Anyone who has ever been to more than three gigs will have undoubtedly graced the back room to one of Melbourne’s busiest pubs.One man who is no stranger to the Melbourne music scene is Melbourne’s own Matt Walters, a singer/songwriter who has just released his new LP entitled Farewell Youth. Walters looked as comfortable on the stage of The Social as anyone I’ve seen, which gave the setting an earnest and welcoming vibe. Which was just as well because as soon as he started singing the room dulled to a hum and everyone was fully aware that they were standing in a room full of strangers. This was, however, not an uncomfortable realisation at all. The music washed over everyone and for the most part of the gig you could only hear people whispering in each other’s ears. Which was a welcome break from the venues I had been habitually visiting. Not once was there someone sweating on me or yelling in my ears how much “THIS SONG IS ABOUT ME!!!”Matt’s soft and withdrawn voice really gave the night a community feel and there was no one who wasn’t enthralled and lock-eyed on the stage which makes it evident why he was chosen to support such prominent acts as Ben Folds, Lisa Mitchell and Liam Finn. It was fairly obvious that he had been touring extensively throughout the last two years as his stage presence was undeniable and he brought people in with on stage banter and stories about his songs. There’s nothing worse than going to a gig and having the band come on stage, churn out their songs back to back, say goodnight and leave without involving the audience. This wasn’t the case at The Social Club, everyone got their money’s worth and left with grins on their faces as they stepped back out into the chilling May air.If you haven’t already seen Matt Walters live I suggest you do, or at least check out The Social Club if you haven’t already been. It truly is a Melbourne institution and it was really refreshing seeing such an intimate acoustic act there as it made you feel as though you were a part of something, not just another guy sweating on people as you push around trying to stop people jumping on your feet or spilling your drink. It’s nice to see such a diverse venue and such a talented performer on it’s stage. And my ears are certainly thanking Walters for picking up an acoustic guitar as opposed to a twelve piece drum kit.- Jonty Thompson


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