Wednesday, 13 January 2010

642 MATTHEW SWEET/ VELVET CRUSH, London Mean Fiddler, Sunday 12 September 2004

One hell of a gig, necessitating one hell of a journey, as it fell on an Evan stay weekend! We dropped Evan off in North Wales at 2 pm, then hammered down the M40 South of Birmingham to get to Shepherd's Bush and park up about 6.30, tubing in and getting some grub before hitting the venue at 7.15.

We were confronted with a very intriguing prospect as we got in - we knew that Velvet Crush would be a part of Matthew's backing band (Crush stalwarts Paul Chastain and Ric Menck had accompanied the great man over last time) so it was no surprise when the classified ad in the Reading Festival programme announced da Crush as support. What was a surprise, however, was spotting a long set-list on the mixing desk, containing both Sweet and Crush numbers! A joint set, perhaps?

So it turned out to be! They kept us waiting until just after 8.30, but Matthew and the rest of this 5-piece band took the stage, bursting straight into a dark. menacing new number, "Dandelion". Matthew then led the band through a brilliant selection of perfect powerpop, touching and heart-felt melodies, supremely harmonic choruses, and occasional dusty glimpses of Americana. Returning to his old "Girlfriend" album regularly, the emotive "I've Been Waiting" and the thrilling, soaring "Dead Smile" were both brilliantly delivered early statements of intent.

Matthew then introduced "Sick Of Myself" as, "a Velvet Crush number", before Chastain took the vocals as they played a 6-song vignette of Velvet Crush classics, either side of a mid-set break. The squalling wah-wah of "Ash And Earth" and the heady sprint through "Atmosphere" were the highlights of this Crush sampler, with Ric Menck firmly staying behind the drum-kit, despite exhortations (mainly from me!) for him to come to the front and talk to us!

Matthew took over vocals again with a brilliant final section, a beautiful "Someone To Pull The Trigger" a highlight, before a single encore of a rootsy, rocky "Girlfriend" punctuated a superb set. Or two! I grabbed a list, and despite slight disappointment at their not completing all the songs on it (it would have been great to hear the frantic Crush number "Drive Me Down"), we realised that, 2 short breaks notwithstanding, they'd played for 1 3/4 hours straight!

And, apparently, judging by his references to jet lag, noted aviatophobe Matthew had actually flown over! Let's hope he does it again - soon!

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