Open Mic Nights/Matt Briley (Lincolnshire Echo July 2012)

This piece was first published in July 2012 in The Lincolnshire Echo.

Open microphone nights are funny things. Often depicted in the visual media as a cacophony of miserable sounding middle class kids with acoustic guitars playing cover songs by ‘cool’ bands that their parents listened to but have precious little knowledge of, most of us would understandably avoid them. However, in reality this could not be further from the truth. Upon wandering into the weekly open microphone night at L4, on something of a whim, I was treated to a hugely entertaining evening. From genuinely funny improvised comedy, including a guy who calls himself simply ‘Texas’ responding to a fellow musicians taunts about him not being best pleased if he were to play ‘Call Me Maybe’ (originally by chirpy songstress Carly Rae Jepsen) by playing said song immediately. This was followed later by Texas and another couple of local musicians having an extended jam session, meticulously blending The Verve’s ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ with Pink Floyd’s ‘The Writing’s On The Wall’ and some other throwaway pop song. There’s a real camaraderie here amongst the veritable smorgasbord of talent, and perhaps most importantly a real sense of fun. Music should be fun, after all.

One notable act was a fledging local solo artist called Matt Briley. A guy with a real talent, not just for guitar playing and singing, but he seems to have that X Factor; something thousands of plastic puppets queue for hours every year to be told they just don’t have. Yet here, in a bar in Lincoln, Matt has it by the bucketful. His set opened with a masterful cover of Bon Jovi’s ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’, before moving effortlessly on to Green Day’s ‘Boulevard Of Broken Dreams’ via The Calling’s utterly timeless ‘Wherever You Will Go’. Matt’s passionate, soulful voice nails every note with conviction. It’s clear he lives and breathes music, something that is all too rare now. Surprisingly, this was one of Matt’s first gigs.

I had the opportunity to chat to Matt briefly after his set. His innate talent for music stems from an early age. He started singing in small school shows from around age 5, eventually progressing to picking up the guitar at age 13. He cites his main influence for picking up the instrument as his uncle, Paul Banfield, who Matt describes as a “very talented” guitarist who also played bass for German metallers Monroxe.

Speaking to Matt about his own material, he cites an eclectic range of influences, including Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash to more contemporary artists, particularly Ed Sheeran. If you get the opportunity, be sure to check Matt out, you will not be disappointed.

The ‘Play Time’ open microphone night takes place at L4 bar, every Monday from 9pm, and comes highly recommended.

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