I’ve known Mattie Vant since my halcyon days of drinking underage in Sunderland and I’ve witnessed him develop as a musician. I remember the teenage excitement that emanated amongst my pals when we heard that The Small Screen Lightshow were going to play Banana Joe’s on a Wednesday night. Mattie was always a step-ahead of the other Libertines wannabes in obscenely tight drainpipes and dangerously pointy shoes. It’s only fair that Mattie’s finally getting the recognition he deserves now and watching him perform at Cluny 2 made me gush like a proud mother.
Kicking off the event was neo-shoegaze London four-piece Inheaven who blasted the cobwebs off me in a tantilsing torrent of distortion and fuzz. While frontman James Taylor dangled dramatically from the edge of his mic, bassist Chloe Little brandished the bass with effortless cool. When they launched into ‘Regeneration’ the nihilist grandeur of Taylor’s yowling refrain “I don’t want to bring you down. I just wanna fuck around” rattled around my head. The sheer exuberance of these lyrics resonated with me and screamed perfect festival set fodder, chanted back by cider-fuelled beautiful people in some rain sodden field in Yorkshire.
The second band on the bill The Big Moon deftly became one of the best support bands I’ve happened to chance upon. Londoners Juliette, Soph, Celia, and Fern seem like the southern counterpart to Sunderland’s Kenickie (minus hairy drummer, Pete). They share Kenickie’s delectably irreverent stage presence and disarmingly tomboyish charm and front-woman Juliette could be mistaken for Lauren Laverne’s ancestor. Musically the band pay homage to some of the best Female led Britpop of the 90s (think Elastica and Lush) and late era Sleater-Kinney and performed a set that was as wistful as it was rambunctious. The highlight of their performance had to be when Juliette purred “This is a Madonna song” and launched into a dramatic reinterpretation of ‘Beautiful Stranger’. I want to say that this is the best cover of a Madonna song I’d ever seen live, but then when I think about it more, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Madonna song covered live. I was also thankful for these lasses for reminding me that this song actually existed an’all as I’m a sucker for 80s madge but ignore the William Orbit era. So, aye. Thanks again!
When Vant took to the stage I was more than energised for his performance and I was glad to see that Mattie hadn’t lost any of that stage presence I remember from days gone by. If anything, his stage persona has fully come into fruition and this was evident when the band tore into a rip-roaring rendition of bluesy political anthem ‘Birth Certificate’. Mattie’s stage craic is still just as witty and sharp as I remember and I was glad to see that a trademark Mattie Vantism was still a part of his live shows when he left the stage and thrashed around the audience. All the notable tunes were there from ‘Parasite’ to ‘Do You Know Me’ and when Annie Mac’s Hottest Record In The World Right Now ‘Parking Lot’ dropped the room blistered with the rippling aural shockwave that is Vant’s visceral musicianship. It was a reunion with an old pal that put the hairs on the back of my neck on edge.