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Matt Tighe & Tad Sargent

Venue: The Green Note
Town: London
Date: 08/01/18

There is something affirming about the first gig of the year. It's that confirmation that the old year has gone and it's time to roll in the new. It's particularly good when it's at one of your favourite venues, The Green Note, and the artist in question delivered one of your favourite albums from the previous year. (Matt Tighe's self-titled debut had just been short listed for Fatea Instrumental Album Of The Year, a title it would subsequently go on to win.)

One of the reasons I'm a huge fan of the Green Note is their solid commitment from the grass roots up, that they also serve a great pint and have a great selection of vegan snacks is a bonus, it's not like I'm giving up meat, but it really is a great selection of bar snacks, I digress.

Over the years, I've seen a good number of sets from Matt Tighe, mainly at Cambridge Folk Festival, and supported by a number of different musicians. But I'd never yet seen a full show, so I was really looking forward to hearing and seeing how Matt handled the experience. I've also been lucky enough to watch Matt grow into his fiddle and it's not for nothing he is the first English artist to release a debut album on Scottish label Greentrax in a good few years.

He's joined on stage over both sets by multi-instrumentalist Tad Sargent, who, for this set at least, restricts himself to the bouzouki, though plays a wider variety on the album. Like Matt he doesn't say much during the course of the two sets and is similarly self-degenerating, Matt also takes the opportunity to plug the album and share an anecdote or two. To be honest if there was one thing Matt does need to do, it's less of the self-denigration, to be modest is one thing, but there is a point where you also accept the quality and accolades.

This was a two set evening and one that naturally saw a primary focus on tunes and tune sets from the album, but this was far more than a live copy of the recorded pieces. Matt has a brightness to his playing that gives every note a real definition, it's something that's true regardless of the time signatures, the changes to which I sometimes struggle to keep up with, but one that gives the tunes a real lift, even the slower ones, that in less capable hands have a habit of becoming more like a dirge, not that there is anything wrong with a good dirge, but so often they are played badly.

In Tad Sargent, he has found himself a brilliant accompanist, whilst Matt gives him his slots in the limelight, a really good accompanist supports and brings out the best in the instrumental lead and when that happens you get a really chemistry, not only between the musicians on stage, but also between musicians and audiences, it's what makes nights like this magical. It was a great way to kick off the live year and at one point I swear I saw Matt smile.

(There's another chance to catch Matt on the 26th at Celtic Connections, check his website for details)

Neil King words and pics

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