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, clichéd 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