Matt Wills at Omeara
With his soulful voice and crafted blend of synth-indie-pop, Matt Wills has attracted the attention of big record labels, radio stations and even bands like Bastille (who he recently toured with). Since his debut EP was released three years ago, Wills has been steadily making a name for himself, now playing his biggest headlining concert ahead of the release of his debut album, Cigarettes and City Lights.
After support from special guests Young Native and Lauren Faith, the main show opened with the singer-songwriter’s brand new track Virtue. Wearing a shiny bomber jacket and shades, Wills looked the part of stage star, matching this with his confident stage presence: “I need every person in this room to scream for me.” Despite a slightly delayed start and some sound and pitch issues, he seemed entirely unfazed, clearly just thrilled to be on stage.
Set You Free, from his 2016 EP, was greeted by cheers, as was new tune Saving Grace, which contains his “favourite bit of the whole album”, and the recent Emily. The live Matt Wills experience is different to simply listening through headphones, with the singer making the most of having a full live band by adapting his productions. However, the booming music sometimes ran the risk of drowning the edges of his voice out. Songs like Hold Me benefited from a bluesy, stripped-back performance that allowed the audience to focus on Wills’s vocal talent and raw tones reminiscent of Ed Sheeran. The track was cleverly mixed with Drake’s Hotline Bling, as well as a spoken word rap outro that was bespoke to the evening, demonstrating just how much detail goes into the British artist’s live performances.
Wills’s earlier EPs have evidently earned him a legion of loyal fans, because familiar songs such as Ellie Grab Your Gun and Always had the full vocal backing of the crowd. And it was a mutual reaction too, with the singer-songwriter making the concert a frequently interactive one, treating the audience as his friends and the night as his party. Even when he forgot lyrics, the room sang them for him, and during Ellie Grab Your Gun he lit up the Omeara with the flashlights of beaming phones.
Wills has a string of festival appearances lined up this summer, and with his album being released next month, his name will undoubtedly be one to watch out for.
Photos: Mike Garnell
For further information and future events visit the Matt Wills website here.
Watch the video for Wallflower here: