A review of Matt Cardle (supported by Graham Brown) at the Ironworks on the 28th of September 2011.

If ever a gig come from out of the blue it was this one. When X Factor winner Matt Cardle announced his first tour in the run up to his release of his début album, Letters, and the first single from it, Run For Your Life, no one could have predicted that it was be a trip up to Orkney and Shetland culminating in a turn at the Ironworks.

Good fortune ,and no small amount of talent, also befell local singer songwriter Graeme Brown, was given the support slot, at what has been to date his busiest crowd at the Ironworks. From his opener, Chase The Day, Graham was at ease with the crowd, and after second song Follow had a bit of chat with the crowd. Between Fun and Fairytale Mind Graham was even able to entice the crowd into a bit of screaming to show Matt Cardle how good a crowd you get in Inverness. Tonight Graham Brown grew up, not at all fazed by the large audience, there were times you could say he was even milking it. Graham has a strong, individual vocal, enough to let those that didn’t know him that Inverness has talent too, and thankfully he doesn’t have one of those generic X Factor haircuts.

Come 9 o’clock the man they were all waiting for appeared. Matt Cardle doesn’t fit with other X Factor winners, he’s a singer/songwriter, and has been in the studio for the last 4 months in what would appear to be a more hands off approach from Simon Cowell. However, and it is a big however, his first single to be released from the album is to be Run For Your Life, penned by none other than X Factor judge Gary Barlow, and in true X Factor style you can almost hear the pyrotechnics in the song. All too generic? Tonight we would find out.

A staged entrance brought the band out first stoking it up for Matt’s appearance. Low volume on his vocal at the start took an edge off his entrance, but with trademark khaki cap he was soon well into his stride. Lyrically his songs are thoughtful and filled with warmth, whether it be his collaborations with Eg White, or his solo efforts. Then there was the single: appreciated by the crowd due to both airplay and probably the Gary Barlow, and ultimately Take That, influence. However, as with some of the other songs, the choruses though can tend towards those X Factor climaxes. And therein lies the problem, X Factor.

Matt has some very decent songs in his collection, in particular Stars and Lovers which had hints of Coldplay around the edges, and I would be amiss not to mention the album title track Letters, both of which are strong single material. But all too often there was a feeling that the crowd wanted the X Factor songs of which, he gave an acoustic version of Nights in White Satin during his main set. I say main set as this was 35 minutes, and the encore of a further two songs.

Not unexpectedly the encore included a certain Biffy song, and to his credit he referred to it as it should be, Many of Horror. That was his penultimate song, as he rounded off his evening with a cover of Alanis Morissette’s Uninvited, which for local music aficionados had, dare I say, a style reminiscent of KOBI .

So as much as I liked a lot of his original material there were murmurings of discontent outside, on both length of set, 45 minutes, and lack of the X Factor songs. Matt has good material, but whether his X Factor fans can be converted is another thing. For me it was the strains of Graham Brown that followed me home. Well I did buy his EP ;)

By Frank Finlayson

Many thanks to McIntosh Photography, Ironworks staff, Matt Cardle and Graham Brown.