Matt Maltese is an enigma. I’ve known “of” him for a long while, but never listened to him, only due to my own foolishness. From his name, he could be just another singer-songwriter or perhaps an actor in a low budget film. But luckily for you, me and the sanctity of low budget films he’s neither. He’s actually one of the most refreshing and exhilarating songwriters I’ve seen in a long while.
One man and his keyboard, Maltese enters the dark stage of Glasgow’s Art School. It’s his final night of supporting Hamilton Leithauser (prev. The Walkmen) on this UK and Europe tour. Tall and slender sporting a long black coat almost covering his exquisite Mott the Hoople t-shirt, Maltese sits and settles before calmly starting his set. ‘Strange Time’s soft, mellow chords echo out across the silent room as subtle reverb wobbles pristinely throughout.
Beautiful song after beautiful song, whether they’re new or well-known to some in the room, Maltese doesn’t falter. Strong and determined, his vocal takes over everything else, goosebumps erupting all around. Lyrically, Maltese is miles ahead of his peers. Although he has said “I’m too old for my age”, his words are really beyond his years. Whether he’s “naked now on your fine red coach” or simply discussing “touching yourself in the bath”, Maltese is elegant and sophisticated beyond belief. Before tonight I would have said it’s impossible to be blown away by how beautiful a song about wanking in the bath is, not anymore.
An accidental cough slightly too close to the mic reaps a drunken group at the front to mimic the poor man on stage, coughing and spluttering in amusement. “I’ve got a chest infection!” Maltese laughs, “I’ve just been in Berlin and got some old school soviet medicine to sort me out.” A woman from the group simply replies in the broadest of Scottish accents “GET SOME WHISKEY DOWN YE MATT”, to which he simply smiles and says “Already there darling”.
There’s an undeniable energy, aura, atmosphere – whatever you want to call it – just an overwhelming feeling you just can’t shrug off while watching Matt Maltese. His deep and wholesome vocal keeps an entire room of rowdy Glaswegians silent and attentive while he plays. Whether it’s the music, his voice, his lyrics, or a combination of all three – Maltese makes you listen to him. It’s impossible not to. The music he produces is a powerful force that requires your attention, whether you like it or not.