22 May 2012
As any churchgoer (lapsed or other) will agree, pews are uncomfortable for a reason. To bear witness is to be restless, to be aware. The live recording of Greedy Magicians at Sacred Trinity, Salford May 10th, was perfect for that very reason.
These latest offerings from Matt Hill (Quiet Loner) are very urgent. Distinctly political, they cover a wide range of topics – the resurgence of British fascism (The Ghost of Oswald Mosely), the experiences of a WW1 soldier (Unmarked Grave), growing up with a Thatcher government (Discontented Winter) and the loss of faith in politicians (If Your Lips Move You’re Lying).
To think this magical evening was earnest however would be wrong. Starlit with fairylights, the choir stalls were further compromised by a double bass, a mandolin, a flute, an accordion, numerous guitars – one of which contained a strip of Memphis dancefloor – "on which I like to think Elvis himself once stood," confided Matt.
Fellow Little Red Rabbit label mates from Last Harbour and Samson & Delilah joined Matt to create an event that was both intimate, moving and authentic. The inevitable pauses, the chatting between songs as guitars were tuned or sound levels checked only added to the intimacy. "Please feel free to go to the loo, or the bar at any time – just close the door quietly"- advised the programme with Bennet-esque understatement. I have grandmothers more icy than that.
Talking of which, it is difficult to underestimate the delight that was the ‘interval refreshments.’ The Cake Liberation Front provided an edible protest parade of delicious proportions – "Educate, agitate, organize!" The keyword there is ate – and having driven far, it was easy to answer the call. A boned, vintage 1950’s dress was possibly not the best garment choice on reflection.
Compering was Salford poet Longfella - last years official Glastonbury Festival poet-in-residence. His howling machine gun delivery was truly the political salt to the caramel of Matt’s vocal. Deceptively smooth, Matt’s shanties and ballads left paper cuts in their wake. Longfella takes no prisoners, his verse going straight for the belly punch. Both approaches achieve their aim, but paper cuts take longer to heal, and those songs are still rattling around, long after the 10th.
This was a very, very special evening. Political or not, to have the ability to move and inspire people made this the ideal venue. Nobody left that building unmoved – whether by the beauty of the harmonies, the poetry and wit, or the gentle curve of their abdomen. The mixing of the album has begun, with an official release scheduled for November. Everyone at the gig will get their CDs ahead of the official release – I can’t wait.