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Matt Elliott @ Mercado Negro, Aveiro (31.05.2012)

If you’ve ever been to an amusement park, certainly you’re familiar with that anxiety minutes before riding that humongous, scary and life-threatening roller coaster (even if at the last call you decide to quit, like my mother used to do a couple times). And although it’s not that sort of concert which you don’t have a clue of what’s about to be, this same feeling got into me, maybe just for the thrill of it.

And so I went, like on the roller coaster, to the front row, so I could take the most of  the sorrow virtuoso dark-folk guitarist Matt Elliott. The acoustics of Mercado Negro’s auditory were more than capable of bringing to the surface the depth of Matt’s voice, just as his howls of pain (incredible performance of “I Name This Ship the Tragedy, Bless Her & All Who Sail With Her”, with an astonishing wall of sound made by simply lots of layers of those shouting choirs). This was also brought to his acoustic guitar, loaded with a loop station and many fuzzy effects – electric guitars? who needs them – giving the right amount of roughness in every song.

The show started with “Dust Flesh and Bones”, from the most recent record, The Broken Man, and it’s right on the game: chords directly imported from a western, the indispensable whistle, all this culminating in a great crawling melody bringing to the insanity words of “this is how it feels to be alone”. Fucking ravishing.

Moved on with the new material, since it was the only new song being played, the old works were brought to Matt’s own noisy, shoegazy, build-up folk world, as the already mentioned “I Name This Ship the Tragedy…” and the follow-up “Howling Song”. And man, this was tough. Very, very deep emotional stuff. I could see some and other people with the little tear in their eye, I think all the room sank with all his pain in some profound way (well, the most of it, but let’s not talk about that, you know what I mean if you follow Matt’s facebook page).

After all this heavy emotional stuff discharged, the concert got assumedly lighter, a lot due to three cover versions of Tarantino-esque songs: “I Put a Spell on You”, by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)”, by Cher, and that traditional tune turned into the goofy theme of Pulp Fiction, “Misirlou”, ironically constructed with all the six strings of the guitar. While the tone of the concert itself didn’t change – Elliott knew how to add a couple of layers of misery on those covers – still, they don’t stop being those songs, and you get that little surprise of recognizing the song, which in the context kinda ruined the mood for me (probably not for everyone else, with people singing along).

Finishing with “Bomb the Stock Exchange”, from Howling Songs, the concert ended up being much longer than it seemed, thanks to the 10-minute songs and increasing, and we all went home with a heavy heart, but consoled and certain that all this ride was worth it. Thanks Matt, see you again in another trip.

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bernardo@bolachas.org

(Pics by João Peça. Thanks to Mercado Negro for making this happen & everyone who came to the show for supporting great music.)

Setlist:

Dust Flesh and Bones
Something About Ghosts
I Name This Ship the Tragedy…
The Howling Song
Desamparado
I Put a Spell on You (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins)
Misirlou (traditional)
Also Ran

Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) (Cher)
Bomb the Stock Exchange

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