Michael Chapman and Patsy Matheson
The Sage, Gateshead
19th October, 2014
A spellbinding evening of beautiful folk music from two brilliant musicians who complement one another so well, from Michael Chapman’s grit to Patsy Matheson”s beautifully delicate tones. We’re left speechless by their incredible talents.
The first time I encountered this psych folk great was on his co-headline tour with musical genius and collaborator Thurston Moore. I was amazed and enchanted, both individually and together. So the opportunity to see this legend up close and personal again was too good to miss. This evening sees him sharing the stage with another of his collaborators, Patsy Matheson, as part of the North East Guitar Festival.
Patsy takes to the stage first, her wit and charm exposed from the start as she makes light of her inability to tell the time without her glasses. Before she opens her set with There For Me by her former band Waking The Witch, its clear from the off that Patsy perfectly matches Michael’s harsher, grittier tones. Her sweet brand of folk has the crowd encapsulated in her world.
She works the room effortlessly; the grandeur and sheer height of The Northern Rock Foundation Hall would be daunting to many. The Hollies is by far the highlight of this short set, a heartfelt and beautiful folk song with a touching back-story. A tale of love and music, it’s spellbinding and exciting and I’m completely entranced by Patsy’s sweet delivery.
After just a short interval, Michael makes his way to the stage with his usual trucker cap adorning his head. As he shuffles on to the stage he wastes no time in breaking into The Twisted Road and immediately his Yorkshire voice is changed beyond belief to this gruff American tone. His delivery is wonderful, and his beautifully picked guitar phenomenal.
I’m drawn in and like the rest of this grandiose room we’re under Michael’s spell, held in the palm of his hand, as he charms us with his beautiful guitar. As he finishes the song, his comedic abilities come to the fore regaling us with the story of The Twisted Road and the ever-growing list of fallen stars, the only benefit of such a list is that his name has yet to be added to it.
He quips about the introduction of the MOWO awards in place of the MOBO awards and his ability to switch from storytelling to astounding us with his guitar playing is second to none. Caddo Lake is just that, a phenomenal psych folk jam. It swirls and pounces as it reaches a crescendo in dramatic form. Michael makes this look insanely effortless, a true master of his instrument and a living legend.
That said, Two Trains is by far and away the highlight of the evening. Originally just two rhythms, tonight it takes the form of 17 sequential rhythms. It’s by far the most intense yet brilliantly breathtaking of tracks, never ending and sprawling with Michael covering every inch of his instrument to once again showcase his masterful talents.
For me, this evening is such a welcome treat from the boring land of mediocre landfill nonsense so ever present in music at times. Michael is a true legend, a master of his craft and a spellbinding performer who I’d recommend anyone to go and see to experience his amazing live show at first hand.
All words by Lee Hammond. You can check out more work by Lee by visiting his Louder Than War archive.