The two young ladies of Overcoats stepped onto Montreal’s Metropolis stage this last Sunday, June 19th to some of the loudest cheers I think I’ve ever heard shouted for an opening act. Dressed in white jumpsuits and surrounded by the instruments that were later used by Matt Corby and his band, Overcoats moved through a set of sparse and sample driven modern soul tunes. On occasion, smaller red-haired member Hana Elion would grab a guitar for a touch of live instrumentation while JJ Mitchell would handle the sample pad and laptop, but for the most part, their modern indie soul compositions relied heavily on the vocal harmonies. And boy, what a touching sound these two are capable of making when combining their airy voices.
It’s clear that the two girls share a rare artistic connection. They move in unison and lock eyes often, ever smiling. After a story about trying to flirt with Hozier while in Dublin (it turned out it wasn’t Hozier at all, but their sound man Seamus), they performed a cover of “Cherry Wine” which was well received. Even though during the softer moments many of the younger and drunker attendees couldn’t shut the fuck up, the sounds of Overcoats harmonies soared above them. By the time they made it to the set closer “Mother,”—a short, haunting, nearly acapella vocal track—the reception was so thunderous that it was evident the band was genuinely humbled by the impression left on Montreal and vice versa. They even reposted a photo on Instagram taken by our very own Eric Brisson! Thanks, guys! It’s worth noting that “The Fog” and “Smaller than My Mother” have been stuck in my head since the performance.
Matt Corby’s stage set up was much more elaborate than Overcoat’s simply by default as he has been supported by a full band on this tour. The arrangement was unique; stage right of him bassist Tristan Thorne, and from there forming a semi-circle around Corby are drummer Mike Haydon, keyboardists Jack Standen (who isn’t anyone’s stand-in. hahahaha, I’ll stop) and Bree Tranter respectively, and guitarist Joel Dowling. There was a large, artful painting of a conflagration lighting up the stage behind the musicians. Corby’s on stage demeanour was quiet and contemplative. When he’s not holding a guitar or a flute, he stood with his hands folded over each other and let his once in a generation voice do all of the moving. Seriously, if you’ve never heard Matt Corby sing, I suggest you head on over to Youtube and check it out. You won’t be disappointed. A former runner-up on Australian Idol—an experience he would later describe as “a big fucking mistake”—his voice oozes soul, runs up and down octaves, and registers with extreme ease and fluidity. He didn’t address the crowd much on this occasion except to charm us with an adorable attempt at French (“Does this make sense? Je vais vous jouer quelques chansons.”), to thank us and wish us goodnight after his encore.
I’m going to take this opportunity to say that if you’re going to insist on making the crowd cheer for an encore, at least make them cheer a little longer. Seriously, Corby and his band were off the stage for a total of twenty-eight seconds before they reappeared. Isn’t the whole point of a modern encore to at least try and create the illusion that the crowd is making you come back out? Anyway, hits like “Resolution” and “Brother” were met with huge cheers, and the band’s live versions of these songs hit with a bang. The musicians were tight and groovy, and the instrumentation was as jazzy as they come. A closing cover of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” was a fitting end to this soulful evening.
Cheers to Matt Corby and Overcoats, may their voices touch the hearts of audiences and listeners in cities around the world for many years to come.
Written by Syd Ghan
Photography by Eric Brisson Eric Brisson Photography
*edited by Danielle Kenedy