Photographs by Janine Van Oostrom.
In the midst of one of Toronto’s hottest and busiest weekends, with festivals like NXNE, Taste of Little Italy, and hundreds of events across the city keeping Torontonians busy and out in the sun, I welcome the cool darkness of Massey Hall as I step in for an early evening of music. I nestle into a seat near the front of the stage alongside an audience full of fashionably-dressed men, women (and a few youngsters) chatting quietly amongst themselves as the stage is set for an artist whom I’ve been hoping to see live for months; Australian folk singer, Matt Corby.
The Massey Hall show marks one of the final shows of Corby’s sixteen date North American tour celebrating the March release of his newest album “Telluric.” This is the first full-length tour the Australian singer-songwriter has done with his full band, following the release.
The lights dim, and Matt Corby takes the stage. For the first third of his set, Matt Corby just sings. Accompanied by a group of accomplished musicians, the vibe is earthy and strong; each song flowing into the next like the underground currents for which the newest album “Telluric” is named. Corby is center stage, wearing a loosely fitted black long-sleeved shirt and holding his hands together as his voice easily slides from register to register; from a low alto to up to a looped high note that sounds like smooth glass, to a raw and emotional belt. At one point, he brandishes a flute and delivers a solo. Between songs he doesn’t speak. Halfway through the show he thanks the audience for coming, and repeats the sentiment before he exits the stage for the last time.
The space is lit like an outdoor folk festival at night, pinks and purples spill across the artwork that serves as backdrop and the lights gently pulse along with the music. It is a chill scene, reflected in the quieter mix of the band, but the build for most of the songs come vocally. Corby sings honestly and soulfully, accentuating the contemplative lyricism with vocal textures he builds live using a loop pedal. Matt Corby’s vocal skill is unquestionable; harnessing a raw and honest emotion with a strength that can’t be duplicated.
Days later, I find myself returning to Corby on Spotify, songs like “Monday,” “Brother” and “Do You No Harm” being the numbers that resonated best in a live setting that are worth revisiting as recordings for any new fan.
To listen to more Matt Corby, or to download his latest release, visit him online here.