Live Review: Matt Cox, Between the Leaves…

Category: Blog — @ 6:54 pm November 10, 2008

Matt Cox has managed to pull together a solid following for his acoustic singer/songwriter balladry. About 20 of those followers showed up Friday night at The Barley Street Tavern where Cox was backed by a full band — bass, drums, electric guitar. This was the first time I’ve seen him with or without a band. Cox has a bluesy style and a voice that reminded me of Eric Clapton’s Unplugged album — laidback and tuneful. The band sounded like it’s played together for years, with guitarist Ben Zinn adding gritty slide licks that made everything sound that much bluesier.

Seems like The Barley Street is trying to fill a void that’s opening with O’Leaver’s doing fewer and fewer shows (There are only three O’Leaver’s dates in November, according to their myspace page). Both rooms have a similar capacity and PA set-up. The difference lies in what they book — O’Leaver’s has always had an indie / garage / rock history, while BST seems to focus on acoustic singer/songwriters in the Kyle Harvey / Brad Hoshaw vein. I like going to both clubs for the same reasons — the relaxed vibe. Plus, it’s cheap.

Last night Between the Leaves played for around 30 people at an early show (8 p.m.) on Slowdown’s small stage. BTL consists of vocalist Stephen Sheehan (ex-Digital Sex), guitarist Richard Schultz, and the newest leaf, noisemaker Evan Blakley. It’s been a couple years since I’ve seen the original duo on stage. Not a lot has changed. They played a few songs from their debut album as well as covers by Dead Can Dance, Tim Buckley, Jefferson Airplane and Depeche Mode. Blakley’s feedback machine/noise box (I have no idea what it’s called) provided a layer of atmosphere without getting in the way of the music — a nice, needed addition. Schultz’s acoustic guitar (and keyboards) were first rate, and Sheehan’s voice has managed to stand the test of time, sounding as well as it did when I saw him in DS back in the early ’90s. Overall, the set was cast in dark tones and shadows — as if Sheehan was reliving moments best remembered alone and with eyes shut. Instead, here he was surrounded by friends who likely lived these moments alongside him. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday night.

* * *

NYC rockers Earl Greyhound returns for an under-the-radar show tonight at Sokol Underground with Wasilla band Portugal. The Man and Halifax band Wintersleep. $12, 9 p.m.

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