Writer and performer: Matthew Strachan
Reviewer: Elizabeth Vile
Seated in the brand new and beautifully built studio of St James Theatre, with a glass of wine or beer on the table in front and an imposing piano on the stage in front, the audience were ready for an intimate evening of song from the immeasurably talented Matthew Strachan.
The modest and quietly spoken Strachan did not disappoint, his easy way of speaking to the audience coupled with the songs he chose created a laid back atmosphere that complimented the wide range of genres and styles that he performed. His short introductions before the songs added context and for any first time listeners this really helped enhance the overall enjoyment of the songs and his ordering of the pieces meant that audience attention was kept high and focused throughout.
The pieces seemed to be chosen from all through his career, and many made social comments on a range of topics from American politics to advertising to relationship break downs. Some particular favorites that made humorous but relevant comments were ‘The Young Advertising Executives Award Speech’ and ‘Messy Love’. Other songs that were on more personal themes but just as effective were ‘Miracle in Monochrome’ about the first time he saw his daughter and ‘Do You Like to Rock &Roll?’ about the desire of others to pigeonhole musicians.
Twice in the first half and once in the second half Strachan was joined on stage by a female singer to perform some of his songs that he had written for women. The first song performed innocently and movingly by Louise Gold was about a 15 year old girl who had been stood up by her date, the second was taken from his musical ‘Next Door’s Baby’ and was gut wrenchingly sung by Riona O’Connor and the third was inspired by Mills and Boon and comically performed by Ruth Bratt. These performances, apart from giving Strachan a rest, broke the evening up and showed yet another side of this multi-faceted artist.
The applause at the end of the night was loud and appreciative, shouts of more brought Strachan back for an encore and the night finished on a real high. Strachan’s voice never wavered throughout and the time seemed to just vanish. Some of the references in the song introductions and in some of the songs were very American so some audience members couldn’t fully appreciate the context but overall this was a highly enjoyable evening with beautiful music, humor, anecdotes and performances from all four artists involved.