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:: Matt Costa :: Mark Stone ::
29 September 2006 / Academy 3 / Manchester
By Dave Adair

Given the way that Mark Stone produces his laid back and driven 'Bright Eyes' skirting tracks, it would be natural to come to the conclusion that he puts on his acoustic guitar before his socks in the morning. The country propped ‘She Knows Which Way The Wind Blows’, is the highlight for many, as Dylan and Counting Crows influences merger the troubled and philosophical life bearing lyrics/ The acoustic accompaniment, allows Stone’s voice to hover commandingly. ‘Sha La La’ is Stone at his most wistful and only a screeching technical glitch can distract you from the almost hypnotic combination of a slow and dreamy accompaniment and a powerful, feeling laden vocal stroll. Of course, as with most acoustic led artists, a harmonica is added towards the end to fatten things out a little, allowing the earnest songsmith to exit the stage leaving a dusky air behind him.

Sun drenched Californian songster, Matt Costa captures the free spirit and commanding touch of Brian Wilson in his early days, as he and his backing band settle in effortlessly. The keyboards of Bill Carson provide a soft cushion to the proud lyrical poetry and Costa is the genial host all evening, encouraging enthusiastic requests that lead to the swooning single ‘Sunshine’, lighting up proceedings by inducing subtle shimmying and whole-hearted singing. This offering is juxtaposed later on by the beleaguered ‘Whiskey & Wine’, combining melancholy with life pondering regret.

‘Sweet Rose’ is a masterful acoustic led romp through what is good about life and has a distinct Stephen Fretwell feel to it. A robust harmonica is played with gusto by the lead man and helps instil a touch of blues, to embolden the already varied musical aspect. It is in the encore that we truly see Matt’s life summing, philosophical side that is delivered with effortless wisdom and calming clarity to help ‘These Arms’ leave a lasting impression. 90 minutes onstage is completed with ease and the new numbers especially, show that this former skate boarder has found a new way of displaying his exhilarating style.

Matt Costa

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