Colorful blankets and pillows covered the floors as lucky ticket holders began to arrive at Matt Corby’s third secret garden show in London. Filled with less than 100 people, the living room was festooned with paper flags and handmade decorations dangling from above.
Singer/songwriter Jade Hopcroft opened the show with her powerful vocals and creative instrumentation. Sounding similar to Laura Marling or First Aid Kit, the Cornwall native offers a strong voice paired with heartfelt lyrics.
As the London sun began to fade and Corby made his way to the front, only candles and strings of fairy lights illuminated the room. Serving as a picnic table, the wooden floors of the living room became littered with beverages and snacks, but no one cared to eat or drink. All eyes were focused on Corby as he sat down to play the keys.
As he played an unreleased song, ‘Water and Wine,’ the room of music-lovers was instantly hushed and captivated. A communal grin spread over the faces of lucky attendees, staring at Corby as his voice continued in waves of vibrato. It was quickly evident that Corby’s new tracks embody more elements of folk and blues than previous releases – sounds that highlight his vocal ability.
The air was hot and humid for a London summer evening, but the atmosphere remained calm and relaxed. Corby addressed the audience, saying “Hello everyone! How are you doing? This is normally in a garden, so well done on all squishing in. Thank you all. That’s all I’m going to say.”
He moved on to play soulful version of “Made of Stone” from his 2011 breakthrough EP Into the Flame. Floating with ease from his whispery ballad to his signature growling vocals, he picked up his red electric guitar and belted “Kings Queens Beggars and Thieves.” Those who were not as familiar with Corby at the start had madly fallen in love with the bearded Aussie by now.
Seamlessly transitioning from piano, to electric guitar and then to acoustic, Corby showcased his versatility. Often compared to Jeff Buckley for his deep, soulful growls, Corby mixed those gritty moments with a tender soulfulness.
The crowd experienced a true Corby treat, too, as he live recorded and beatboxed on “Trick of the Light.” Dancing and shaking his head to the rhythm, he continued smiling and grooving throughout. Corby created so much sound for a one-man show. He stopped and said “Yeah, I don’t know. You’re the first people to see that – and possibly the last.”
Closing the set with his soulful version of ‘Amazing Grace,’ emotion penetrated through the room once more. The crowd, full of complete strangers who’d all come together to celebrate the music, remain hushed, not wanting to leave.
“I don’t really know where to go,” Corby said as he navigated through a sea of still-captivated people. Everyone remained seated, taking in the evening for a few moments and trying to mindfully capture the moment. Corby’s garden show proved to be a concert that will not soon be forgotten.
Check out Carlota Rebelo’s photos from the Secret Garden Show in the gallery below.