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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

IAIN MATTHEWS: STILL PLAYING AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

File:Iain Matthews at Cropredy 2007.jpg 

To give you an idea of how close I was sitting to Iain Matthews during his concert last week at Club Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts, every time I said, “Yeah!” after he introduced a song he would smile and respond, “Yeah!” 

This was not like seeing Paul McCartney at Fenway Park. As great as that experience was, it did not have the intimacy of this performance. It was as if Iain Matthews was performing in my living room.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve seen Matthews perform live. Those familiar with this space might recall the tribute I attended in Brooklyn back in January 2014 for late Byrd Gene Clark’s 1974 solo masterpiece No Other. Matthews sang lead on “Silver Raven” and “The True One.”As much as I enjoyed that evening, I have long pined for an opportunity to see and hear a whole evening of Matthews’ music and was delighted this opportunity had come my way.
Now when I mention Iain Matthews to most people they draw a blank. This is a real shame because Matthews has been performing for nearly 50 years, both as a solo artist and with groups like Fairport Convention, Matthews’ Southern Comfort, and Plainsong. But now approaching 70 (a very youthful-looking 70), Matthews has a found a way to take it all in stride. His most recent solo album was titled The Art of Obscurity. 

This isn’t to say Matthews hasn’t had his share of success. His Southern Comfort had a number one hit in their native Britain in 1970 with a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.”It is nothing like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s hard rocking version. This “Woodstock” is quieter and more introspective, featuring gentle vocals by Matthews and a subtle pedal steel guitar by the late Gordon Huntley. I heard MSC’s version regularly on an oldies station in Ottawa when I was going to university there in the early ’90s. When I spoke with Matthews before the show I told him he should thank Canadian content rules. He smiled and said, “Woodstock.” “And ‘Tell Me Why’ too,” I said, referring to a Neil Young song MSC also recorded. 


CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM GONZO
Live In Maidstone 1970
CD - £7.99

Live At Maidstone Castle 1970
DVD - £7.99

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