Thursday, 2 April 2009

Jonah Matranga, Exeter Cavern, 01.04.09

The Cavern is near-empty tonight; at a generous estimate there can't be more than 40 people inside, which is a terrible shame. After a prolific 18 years or so, including nine years and four albums as the frontman of influential melodic hardcore band Far, Jonah Matranga's never really made it beyond a cult following. Never mind, though - he's obviously not in it for the money, clich├ęd as it sounds.

Matranga openly states this intention himself in opener 'Livin' Small', as he insists that "if that's what passes these days for livin' large / then I'm happy livin' small", his vocal shaking with obvious, real emotion.

It's Matranga's voice, indeed, which forms the set's entrancing centrepiece: switching from a whisper to a half-shout within the space of just a few bars on 'We Had a Deal; a honeyed hum on 'Yr Letter'. Bolstered only by an electro-acoustic guitar, a drum machine and occasionally a sparse drumkit, it's mesmerising, to say the least. Equally endearing to the lo-fi set-up is Matranga's insistence on filling in as many of the parts as is possible on his own - singing the guitar solo, for example, on 'Not About A Girl Or Place'.

What's best of all, however, is Matranga's offer to play any requests from the audience. A veritable human jukebox: you name it, he's willing to play it. With a hefty back catalogue spanning five separate incarnations, there's a lot to choose from, yet he takes all suggestions in his stride, yielding a glorious 'Bitte Ein Kuss' and a heartwarming run-through of 'Smile'.

Impressive and inspiring, this is about as intimate as listening to a Walkman under the covers. Incredible.

Jonah Matranga - Not About A Girl Or Place

1 comment:

  1. Someone just pointed me to this review -- Thx Em, glad you were there. Nice night.
    Pip&Dave @ Cavern have always been great, and they knew they were taking a hit this time booking it when school is out. I've loved every time at the Cavern, rammed or quiet. Here's to more.

    Twitter @jonahmatranga