My first time at the Borderline since its recent refurbishment and it was looking impressive, with trendy seating and bar. Luckily it keeps the same atmosphere for live gigs with the audience crowded round the small stage area.
William the Conqueror was the support act and he took to the stage with his acoustic guitar and bass drum. He did mention he normally toured with a full band but tonight he joked they were replaced by said bass drum. He had an easy going style, both in the music – a mix of blues and Americana – and between song chat – he thought the revamped venue looked like the set of ‘Blake’s Seven’ (I’d wager this refit cost more than that creaky old set!). His new album is due out on August 4 and will be one to investigate further based on tonight’s impressive performance which went down well with the crowd.
Matt Andersen is a Juno Awards nominated Canadian blues guitarist/singer, and tonight’s gig was his final date on his UK leg of his current European tour. Where to start? Let’s just say you need to see Matt Andersen live to fully appreciate him as his acoustic guitar playing is stunning and then there is his voice. I have rarely seen a singer pour so much passion into his singing, a real joy to behold and reinforces why live music is good for your soul and well-being. Take ‘Make You Stay’, he was all over his guitar, his head thrown back, eyes closed as he got into his own groove and took the audience along with him. Amazing to watch and hear.
He has a very laid back, friendly on stage presence and can even slip in some unexpected fun as could be heard on ‘Have You Got The Blues’, where midway through he started playing the theme tune ‘The Pink Panther’. There was audience participation on his version of the classic ‘People Get Ready’, as he has the “guys and gals” singing different backing parts and it made for a one of the evening’s highlights. Needless to say Matt had the audience on his side from the moment he walked onto the stage. Interestingly the audience was made up of a younger crowd than I expected with a few hardened blues fans dotted around the crowd, proof that good blues music and musicians, like folk and country, has the timeless sound and appeal to carry on through generations.
Go see Matt Andersen play when he is town near you as you won’t be disappointed.
Review by Jason Ritchie