Matt Maltese Makes Magic @ Hyde Park Book Club 25/11/19

Having been a long-term fan of Matt Maltese, getting a chance to see him perform live is always exciting. Since its release on the 8th of November, I’d listened (almost) obsessively to his new, exquisitely subdued second album Krystal. I couldn’t help but marvel at how Maltese had managed to combine his initial ‘solo-piano-ballad’ aesthetic with the more hardcore cynicism, and larger production value of his debut album Bad Contestant.

Initially, I was surprised at the small size of the venue at which Maltese was playing, but within seconds of his set beginning, I realised that this is exactly where an artist like him thrives. Maltese was able to converse with the crowd in the dry witty, manner that he does so well, providing venue-wide chuckles whilst simultaneously breaking each audience member’s heart at some point throughout the achingly intimate set.

” I think those of us who’ve found him want to keep his music all to ourselves “

Kicking things off with new track ‘Jupiter’, he was able to demonstrate those effortlessly smooth vocals of his, whilst also showing off his infamous wit with lyrics such as ‘And I’d even be an ulcer in your mouth / Just to be close to you’. From a possibly selfish point of view, it was particularly pleasing to have a combination of tracks from Maltese’s entire back catalogue, even going back to his very first demo ‘Even If It’s A Lie’. The intimacy of this particular performance alongside a somewhat modestly reluctant encore of ‘When You Wash Your Hair’ allowed the audience to see a vulnerable side of an artist who, up until the release of Krystal, has perhaps been hiding behind an irony curtain of his own making.

I may be biased, but I’ll never quite understand why Matt Maltese isn’t filling arenas. I guess that’s a part of his charm though. There’s a real beauty to the way that his lyrics can make pretty much anyone who listens to them laugh, cry, or sigh with frustration at the messed-up world we’re living in. I think those of us who’ve found him want to keep his music all to ourselves.

Charlotte Bresh