In a post-Brexit Britain, Matt Maltese is a beacon of hope. His unique sound of sweeping melancholic ballads filled Room 2 of The Leadmill in Sheffield.
Opening for Isaac Gracie on his huge sold-out UK tour, it is always interesting to see an opening act demand and maintain the attention of another’s audience. As the headliner’s name loomed over the setup, you would be forgiven if you thought this might stifle his performance.
Yet, with a humble “Hello” the room was his.
His first song ‘Sweet Sixteen’ with lyrics including “I don’t know you, you don’t know me” perfectly articulated his self-deprecating charm which the audience immediately warmed to. In spite of this declaration, he captured the intimate space. Even the rowdy men at the bar grew quieter.
Introducing, ‘Like a Fish’ Maltese asked “I don’t know if any of you have been in a love triangle. If you haven’t you’re missing out.” His witty interjections throughout, continually draw the audience back allowing to shake of the solemn mood of the room for a moment of humour.
Then came ‘The Greatest Comedian’ with an attentiveness to the mundane rivalling John Cooper Clarke and even Morrissey. Indeed, a great counter-balance to the high melodrama of the lyrics came through his interactions with the audience, explaining the inspirations for such lyrics. One such event he described: “Kissing somebody’s girlfriend, taking a stupid drug and having to go iceskating with my mum—this one’s for her.”
Describing his closing song, the apocalyptic ‘As the World Caves In’ as “a song about Theresa May and Donald Trump having it off and watching the world blow up outside.”
His melodramatic ballads, examine the mundanity of everyday life draw attention to the absurdity of the present socio-political climate. He previously sang, “I don’t know you, you don’t know me,” but from his captivating performance it won’t be long until the masses know his name.
That is, unless the world ends before he gets the chance.
Head image: Ethan Weatherby