Live Review: Matt Corby The Tivoli

4 June 2012 | 2:33 pm | Benny Doyle

There’s no denying the Sydneysider is destined for great things, but it’s a little too early to be taking people on a journey.

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Local lad Thomas Calder, otherwise known as The Trouble With Templeton, gives the headliner a run for his money in the way of gallant vocals, his opening set one of poise and understated charm. With added keys and strumming filling out his magnetic acoustic odes, he delivers songs that feel like they were written for another time, his musical storyboards privileged to an enduring nature. Dark new shanty, Someday Soon, is as tortured as it is secure, while fingerpicking favourite, I Wrote A Novel, drifts like the night air it channels. With more sets like tonight, Calder could soon do great things.

As unique a sound as Melbourne sextet Alpine possess, tonight they just fail to hit the mark. Things seem ramshackle and off the cuff, but not in a good way; the band looks unrecognisably out of sorts, and there are some complete timing and note balls-ups that come from almost every player. There doesn't seem to be a sense of unity at all, and even duelling vocalists Phoebe Baker and Lou James, who normally bounce off each other with the connection of twins, are finding it hard to naturally weave their voices into a structured tapestry. The finale of Villages is undoubtedly the high point of the set, Alpine finally getting the right sonic balance to deliver the brilliant single with unbridled feeling. It's just a shame that we had to take such a bumpy road to find that cohesion.

As the dark room flickers with the lights of a hundred iPhones ready to record at the press of a button, Matt Corby arrives on stage and solemnly starts the evening with a pair of acoustic numbers, the tracks immediately showing off his prodigious natural talent; confident guitar playing, smart looping effects and a versatile, bold voice that is released with an intimidating ease. The rest of the band soon join him on stage, the backing quartet holding some serious chops, most notably Bree Tranter, formerly of The Middle East, who divides her time between keys and flute, looking like an angelic centrepiece surrounded by the burly boys. The foursome help make songs like My False and Made Of Stone soar; however, there are simply too many noodling moments during the set that are downright boring, and it almost seems purposeful. It's as if Corby is trying his hardest to be seen as more than just a song, even though to many in the room tonight that's unfortunately all he is. That tune of course, Brother, towers above the rest of the set, the response it receives attesting to that – it's unique and immediate in a way few songs will ever be. There's no denying the Sydneysider is destined for great things, but it's a little too early to be taking people on a journey. It simply seems like Corby is already biting the hand that feeds, but then again, maybe he's never been hungry in the first place?