Review: Matt Cardle - York Barbican


Thursday March 1st 2012: There was a buzz around the Barbican as the backstage area was crowded behind crash barriers long before the performance. I expected a much younger crowd but found a range from Fearne Cotton to Dot Cotton. The kids were clearly at home dancing to Little Mix.

The venue was set up all seating in place for the comfort of the crowd – showing that the audience was the priority over profit for the evening- a pleasing change.
X Factor disciples filed in with new found radio converts. Could Matt Cardle deliver without the glamour and Bruckheimer style production of the X Factor? Could Luke Skywalker hold an audience without Darth Vader sat judgementally behind a desk? Absent was “It’s time to face the music !”, slo-mo video clips and Saturday night showbiz. This evening almost distanced itself from the X Factor stabilisers and Mr. Cardle was loving flying solo.

Bizarrely, stage was set up with rugs, tables and standard lamps like a lounge – quirky and charming – a refreshing change from death by pyrotechnics and video screens showing a confidence in his performance. This show was clearly about cake and not icing!
The show opened with a standing ovation befitting a homecoming hero – clearly their mobile phones bills had been swollen by their support for Mr. Cardle. Ironically, a man stands on the stage who received more votes than the man currently running the country! Welcome to the media world of the 21st century.

York’s premier 1500 seater venue felt intimate. Loose women dressed in pink ladies style t-shirts with “I love Matt” danced in the aisles as security guys tried to stop armies of iphone wielding boadacias taking photos – but like Canute they could not stop the tide.
The five piece band were faultless as Cardle gripped his telecaster living out the dream. Over the night he could not stop saying “It means everything ..” and clearly it does.

As with all products of talent shows you wonder how good they are. This is not under question. Matt Cardle has a phenomenal voice with power, range and sensitivity. His stripped bare version of Roberta Flack’s The first time ever I saw her face brought the house down. His falsetto was crystal clear and faultless and could have made Minnie Ripperton cower .
The set list crammed with hook heavy anthems and tunes that could steal Gwyneth Paltrow away from Chris Martin. His guitarist Lorenzo was outstanding giving wonderful light and shade and power when required with an amazing sound quality in an often difficult venue.

Heart strings were tugged with Walking on water & Slowly – clearly, as Adele, Cardle favours the cathartic approach to exorcising his past demons in public.
For a man who had duetted with Rhianna and been surrounded by dance routines and glitz this was a far more organic recipe. He took on his Biffy Clyro no.1 by himself with just some wood and wire - a brave man to stand alone just a guitar to hide behind but he delivered.
The encore of Run for your Life also did not need Peter Dickson’s over the top voice over. It has a cracking singalong chorus that had the crowd on their feet.

The former milkman and painter can’t believe he has won this competition – opportunity knocked and he took it. He is not a natural entertainer and shows his lack of natural confidence between songs but tonight is about music and music alone. His songs are powerful - his impeccable voice could stand alongside anyone and not be embarrassed.

So what did the Barbican get tonight? No dancers, no gimmicks, no waterfalls of fireworks, no pre-written soundbytes designed to write headlines, no cheesy Eurovision key changes and no Irishmen saying “You made it your own”, but we did see a young man living a dream and sharing a wonderful talent. He is not a natural showman but banter can be learnt and taught but that voice is a gift and what a gift it is!

Review by Ian Donaghy

Tour dates - March
SATURDAY                   3          CAMBRIDGE CORN EXCHANGE
SUNDAY                       4          OXFORD NEW THEATRE
MONDAY                      5          BIRMINGHAM SYMPHONY HALL
THURSDAY                   8          O2 ACADEMY BOURNEMOUTH
SATURDAY                   10         SWINDON OASIS
SUNDAY                       11         PORTSMOUTH GUILDHALL
MONDAY                      12         SOUTHEND CLIFF PAVILION
THURSDAY                   15         GLASGOW O2 ACADEMY
FRIDAY                        16         NEWCASTLE CITY HALL
SUNDAY                       18         BELFAST, WATERFRONT        
MONDAY                      19         DUBLIN OLYMPIA
THURSDAY                   22         O2 MANCHESTER APOLLO
SATURDAY                   24         CARDIFF ST DAVIDS HALL
SUNDAY                       25         BRISTOL COLSTON HALL
MONDAY                      26         PLYMOUTH PAVILIONS
WEDNESDAY                28         BRIGHTON DOME
THURSDAY                   29         HMV HAMMERSMITH APOLLO

Tickets available from Ticketmaster UK