Matt Joe Gow was the opening act for Grant-Lee Phillips on 8th may 2018 at The Gov
This talented NZ born Melbournian, was a nominee for ‘The Age Music Victoria Award’ in 2016 and has received rave reviews from his many live performances.
Gow released his debut album ‘The Messenger’ in 2009 with his band ‘The Dead Leaves’, and followed up in 2016 with the aptly titled album ‘Seven Years‘. The years in between saw Gow lose some of his passion for music, thankfully he regained that passion with ‘Seven Years’ and now enjoys a new creative depth and a passion which shines through in his live shows.
He transfixed the small but very attentive crowd at The Gov with his incredible talent. Taking us back to the time of his first album ‘Messenger, with songs such as ‘I Let You Be’ – a poignant tale of turning a new life chapter – his vocal style can be compared to Chris Isaak on some of these more brooding numbers.
Matt treated us to a small sample from his enormous repertoire and he held the attention of the room perfectly. He told the crowd that he was enjoying these stripped back, simple arrangements of his songs and it certainly looked like it. The audience were enjoying them too and they lapped up every song.
His prowess on guitar and harmonica conveys his sometimes simple songs with a deep conviction that is both entertaining and engaging.
Gow gives you the impression he is singing just to, and for, you. Which is a rare and special talent.
Definitely an artist I’ll be looking out for when he’s next in Adelaide.
Grant-Lee Phillips took the stage from 9:30 pm, telling the audience he was enjoying the Australian coffee and eggs, I’m not sure they fully believed the bit about the coffee, but they gladly took the egg compliment.
Phillips, enjoying life as a celebrated solo artist after the Grant-Lee Buffalo days of the 90’s thankfully showed the audience that he still remembered some of those old favourite numbers as he “parked” himself in the 90’s for our indulgence, at least for a short while during this performance.
Sporting that iconic hat, he looked so comfortable on stage that he could have been singing at a family BBQ. He was certainly among friends this night as he treated the small but very appreciative crowd to some musical gems from his extensive back catalogue. Getting into a debate with the audience on the terms “Hither and yonder” before breaking into ‘The Wilderness’ from his ‘Widdershins‘ album, Phillips grabs the attention of a crowd in a way that many other artists would love to do. As each song began, the crowd were hushed into a reverent silence that conveyed their obvious respect for this man.
The influences of Bob Dylan and Neil Young are evident in Grant-Lee Phillips music, but there is much more to this man than those comparisons would suggest. He certainly established his style many moons ago and yet he still continues to somehow be relevant and fresh with his songs and in his audience interaction.
The guitar tone he coaxes from that full bodied Gibson guitar, beautifully compliments his extraordinary vocal tones.
The crowd thoroughly enjoyed every song that Phillips shared with them, many requests were thrown at him throughout the night and he responded positively to each one. Amid much whoopin’ and a hollerin’ from the crowd, Phillips launched into ‘Honey Don’t think’ followed by the beautiful ‘Jupiter and Teardrop’.
So many favourite songs were shared to the sheer enjoyment of everyone present, hits such as ‘King of catastrophe’, ‘Black Horses in a yellow sky’, ‘Josephine of the Swamps’ and ‘Cry Cry’ brought the audience to a point where they were certainly not going to let Grant-Lee get off the stage without an encore.
Phillips didn’t actually leave the stage at the end of his set, he merely ‘stepped aside’ while the crowd begged for more, his cheeky grin letting everyone know that he was going to ‘step back’ for an encore.
Calling Matt Joe Gow back on stage for a couple of numbers with him, drew massive applause from a crowd which didn’t want this night to end.
The voices of Matt Joe Gow and Grant- Lee Phillips together were nothing short of incredible. They fed off of each other and took the lead vocal in turns and their voices blended so perfectly in harmony.
Gow left the stage for Phillips to finish his encore with more solo numbers, which included the fantastic ‘Tennessee rain’ and ‘Calamity Jane’, making this night one to remember for a long, long time.