Matthew E White at Queen Elizabeth Hall
It’s been a good year thus far. We’ve had the return of some of the rock ‘n’ roll hierarchy, most prominently Bowie but also Nick Cave, The Strokes and The House of Love. And yet a small town Virginian, Matthew E. White from Richmond, VA, is in the running for the album of the year, his only strong critical competition thus far being the sophomore work from Enfield boy James Blake.
The appallingly titled debut album Big Inner (a contender for worst punned opus, only truly matched by Steps’ Steptacular and Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti by Squeeze) is a thing of beauty, combining the sounds of Woodstock-era Van Morrison with the latter day melodic hymnals of the Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver – only it’s better than both.
The show at Queen Elizabeth Hall is brief at 65 minutes in length. A couple of new tracks get an airing, but the focus is obviously on the album, released here in January, from which Big Love, Brazos and the glorious Hot Toddies most impress. His nine-piece band, Spacebomb, hailing from his home town and as splendidly bearded as White himself, work subtly through the evening with no bombast but a slow build for each and every piece.
White interacts regularly with the crowd; requesting examples of Cockney rhyming slang and sharing his complete incomprehension of the Scottish dialect. He encourages people to dance with varying degrees of success, as he later tweeted: “The Southbank was really wonderful tonight. Ushers tried to crush the human spirit, but it is uncrushable…let them dance!”
After the show he signed copies of his album (the vinyl selling out almost immediately, an indication of his hipster appeal) and gave well-received generous hugs in the foyer. He’s on the rise, and we’re going with him.
Photos: Lucia Hrdà
For further information and future events visit Matthew E White’s website here.
Watch the video for Big Love here: