– Gorilla, Manchester –



I know a grand total of one Mattiel song, yet here am. At Gorilla, watching Mattiel. It’s exactly 15 minutes until the doors open and there’s one, two, three. Three of us in the queue. This initial lack of people makes me nervous but hey, at least I’ll be able to see the stage. I always find Gorilla to be a bit of a strange venue. It feels so small yet so many people fit inside. Like some sort of performing Tardis. As I’m now told the doors won’t open until 30 minutes later than stated, the lack of people here starts to make sense. Oh well. There’s been worse things to happen at gigs.

When Le Ren, the opener, comes onstage there are still very few people in the room. But that doesn’t really matter as her voice weaves its way through the crowd filling the room with a sort of melancholy I don’t think I was prepared for. I’m nothing of a country fan, yet I’m captivated by her.

I’m not quite as lousy a writer as I may come across, I did do some research on Le Ren (and Mattiel) beforehand. In 2018 she received a phone call telling her that her boyfriend had died in a car crash. With such a tragedy in her life you might expect the music to be cold and almost empty, but Le Ren was quite the opposite, it was warm and bubbling up and over the usual capacity. So different from my expectation. A sadness washes over me and I am brought to tears by someone I’ve known for less than an hour of my life. Maybe country music isn’t so bad.

Le Ren is a gentle stream passing by, Mattiel is a fully fledged tsunami hitting you head on. Mattiel is power. She’s leather-clad and her tones are harsh and sultry. Her voice haunting as it echoes around the room. It’s an assault on the senses.

Gorilla has changed since I was last there, now the walls are adorned with LED screens displaying film. Clips of Jeff Goldblum play as Mattiel wails a song named after him. The crowd lap it up. There’s only two of them creating the music. Mattiel singing with her guitarist and a few other contraptions that are far too complex for me to understand. I’m happy in this ignorance as I bear witness to a musical alchemy created in front of my eyes. I have no need for knowing what each button Mattiel presses does, or what the effect of each knob turn is. But know this much, the result is heavenly.

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Megan Barton

Meg is a proud Mancunian and Music Journalist. She started out by writing press releases for bands in her free time, but now runs her own website Dyrti which she plans to expand in the near future. She loves Lester Bangs and Tony Wilson and has interviewed bands such as Cabbage, Oceans On Mars and Adult Cinema. You will more often than not find her somewhere in the Northern Quarter.