Matt Cardle’s Porcelain tour is underway and is going very well with reports of one cracking performance after another across the UK, pausing only for him to celebrate his birthday. I went to see him in Birmingham, thinking I knew everything there was to know about his voice, but came away humbled.
Before his historic success on X Factor I knew Matt Cardle as the gritty voiced frontman of superb Indie band Seven Summers, then he put in some smooth performances at the audition stages of X Factor and I saw a whole new side to the singer. Since then he has continued to evolve, training his voice, smoothing out the rough, increasing the range until it sounded like silk sliding over pearls. Performances were always polished and sensitive with plenty of friendly chit chat between the songs, but once he started to sing, he went into his own world and the audience was invited to peek in on the psyche of a true artist.
This time was going to be different. I knew from other people’s recordings that the voice had changed somewhat, perhaps as a result of his breakdown over Christmas that resulted in him checking into The Priory for recouperation. I expected to see evidence of his difficulties in Birmingham and would have been very satisfied with a less than polished performance this time, but it wasn’t at all what happened. Matt took to the stage, moving like a panther and immediately took ownership of the entire room. The audience was pumped from the moment he appeared. From the first note, every note, every word, every movement of the man projected out to them, to be returned with interest, then batted back out again, like some game of energy tennis, building up the atmosphere in a way I’ve never seen before. The set was aimed at getting the crowd rocking and didn’t disappoint with one crowd pleaser after another taken from his three successful, self penned solo albums.
His voice has lost some of that silk and regained just enough of the old Seven Summers edge to make his songs come alive in a way I’ve never seen before. Perhaps that’s why songs I’ve hitherto failed to love took on new life. There aren’t many artists who sound better live than on their albums, but this man does.
A word should be said about the support act, Azu. This is a young man to watch. Silky smooth vocals and excellent songwriting skills. He’s also got the most brilliant smile that deserves to take him far. I have his new EP and it’s great.
There a still a few dates left before the tour ends. I suggest you get tickets if you can.