Sometimes there are artists who you think back to the first time you heard their voice and remember exactly where you were and what you were doing. For me, the first time I heard Matt Corby, I was sitting in my house, woefully unemployed, spending my evenings joking virtually on the website formerly known as Twitter and listening to tunes from a wide genre of music. Matt’s undeniably soulful and wholly arresting voice instantly embedded itself into my being. I was an immediate fan. That fandom would have me waiting through various show cancellations and tour setbacks, so when the time came to finally see Matt Corby perform at Bowery Ballroom this past Monday, it was a very long time coming, and decidedly worth the wait.
Warming the stage, we were first treated to a performance from Rachel Bobbitt, who hails from Toronto, Canada. Flanked by guitarist, Justice Der, I was pleasantly surprised by how good a voice Rachel has, coupled by Justice’s guitar work, who was quietly killing it I must add. This duo landed one of the most entertaining opening sets I’ve seen at Bowery in a minute, including an incredible cover of Sharon Van Etten’s “Love More” which has lived in my memory bank for years now.
Then, on to Matt’s set. The one thing that always strikes me about his entrance onstage is always how surprised he looks that people show up in droves to see him perform. Despite the rescheduled dates, a healthy crowd waited for him to utter the first note. Starting things off slow with “Carry On,” we were quickly wrapped up in everything he and his band had to deliver. And they definitely delivered. While most of us spent our time during the pandemic learning how to make sourdough bread, and working on our fitness, Matt has apparently been polishing up his live performance, cranking out songs and demonstrating just how pristine and powerful his vocals have remained all these years, as if we had any doubt.
Suddenly, A man was heard shouting from the crowd a short while into the set. “YOU GOT ME THROUGH MY DIVORCE!” Matt smiled, laughed and said “Thanks?” The whole crowd laughed in unison. Similar moments of crowd banter ensued when apparently every Aussie ex-pat in NYC was also in attendance during the show and heartily made their presence known. Shouts of “Like A Version!!!!” were also heard, referencing his many appearances on the Australian-based Triple J program where he laid down memorable covers of The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy,” and TLC’s timeless girl-anthem that he would perform during the encore, “No Scrubs.”
Running through selections from his 2023 release, Everything’s Fine, songs like “Carry On” and “Reelin’” held a jazz-tinged feel, while others like “Mainies” landed him back in modern singer-songwriter territory. Songs from the entirety of Corby’s discography found their way into the set that seemed to serve as an “I’m so glad to be back” message to the crowd, and being in that crowd when the two song punch of “Resolution” into “Souls A’Fire” hit was transcendent. Many of these songs, however many years old they may be now, have taken on new lives now. New arrangements, more vocal runs… I closed my eyes many times to absorb the full impact of these songs in their current form.
That is simply a snippet of the neverending beauty of a Matt Corby show. An artist willing to pour everything he has out onstage through this voice that feels like you’re hearing a miracle each time. I can only hope it won’t be another handful of years before I can be in the same room as this man and his gift again.
“All Fired Up”
“No Ordinary Life”
“Better Than That”
“No Scrubs (Like A Version)”
Article/Images: Lesley Keller