Matt Maeson at Electric Brixton
Matt Maeson, who launched his first debut single Cringe in 2016, plays a pared-back acoustic set, alternating between piano and guitar on a no-frills stage, with blue and yellow spotlights against a misty background offering the only decoration.
He is confident in a classic American way: Maeson makes the audience choose between two songs at one point (they choose Tribulation, which is sung softly with a raw feeling) creating a participatory, collaborative feeling to the night. In between songs, he treats us to “story times”, where he tells us tales of when he and his baked friends broke into an elementary school and were surrounded by squad cars, when he lived in a grotty trailer with troubled but generous friends, and the time on tour when he did meth with a bunch of strangers. These stories are told as if we were sitting in a pub listening to a friend. They are humorous and relatable rather than preachy or moralistic, and these stories give us a greater sense of Maeson as a person, as well as a deeper understanding of the meaning behind his music.
For example, Hallucinogens was written that day after Maeson did meth at a stranger’s house party, then walked eight miles to his hotel room during a comedown, sat on his bed and felt as if he’d reached rock bottom. Ironically, Hallucinogenics is now his most played song and the audience sings along with passion, highlighting that things can come out of the darkness in a way you wouldn’t expect. Maeson performs the track thoughtfully and with feeling. You can’t fault his voice, which is every bit as strong and enjoyable in person.
Maeson is a one-man show, playing marvellously on the guitar before switching to the softer, sadder tones of the keyboard. Me and my friends are lonely is a hauntingly catchy song, the inflection in the line “I don’t know what to do” just feels right, creating a feeling of sad euphoria. Split Personality Blues, an unreleased song played on the keyboard, has angry lyrics and yet the feeling of the track is a melancholic nostalgia, causing the heart to reach out. The set includes two unreleased songs and a mix of older and newer numbers. It ends fittingly with Legacy, an inspirational and celebratory song about how it’s never too late to pick up the pieces, which sends us into the night with an uplifting “Woah, woah”.
Matt Maeson’s show is laid back, intimate and full of personality. Highly recommended for old and new fans.
Photos: Miguel de Melo
For further information and future events visit Matt Maeson’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Blood Runs Red here: