After a good few quiet years on the musical front, Matthew van der Want has gradually been acclimatising his eyes to the glare of the public spotlight again. The culmination of this takes place on Saturday 5 May when he launches his latest album, ‘Outstanding’ at The Bioscope in downtown Johannesburg.
Personally I am thrilled! Matthew and I did English honours together at Wits back in 1994. Then he was busking around the flea markets playing Leonard Cohen and Koos Kombuis songs. But it was clear that he was already then generating his own work of a very high quality. After a creative writing session with the WITS English department, I told him in no uncertain terms that I did not approve of all these covers he played and that he MUST start performing his own material. Clearly I felt that playing in the punk band, The General Woodheads at the time gave me license for such observations!
But then I dropped out of honours, sold everything I owned and buggered off to the UK for other adventures. When I returned 20 months later it was to be greeted by Matthew’s debut solo album and his riotous tour with Urban Creep and the rest, as they say, is history!
As an artist, Matthew is a guy who has always felt the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune very keenly. It is mainly due to this I believe that he walked away from music to pursue a career in law. But, like many of us of a certain age, he had to come back to purpose, to his muse.
Matthew has always been one of this country’s best song writers. His ability to willingness to cut to the bleeding heart of his actions and motivations makes for visceral, raw songs that are presented with frank tenderness and alarming honesty. This bareness, set against generally quite delicate guitar work is a hauntingly powerful combination that I am very glad is back in force.
I have heard a lot of Matthew’s new material and I am also very pleased that he has returned to form. There was some dodgy middle years stuff, but the new album is all vintage Van der Want. He has also matured as a performer and his acerbic wit, sarcastic asides and almost autistic stage presence has evolved in a powerfully mature, slightly autistic stage presence that laughs at itself as much as it reviles and laughs at us.
Laurie Levine and her cellist Lani will accompany Matthew on stage and there are powerful rumours that Chris Letcher will as well. This is an almost unbelievable opportunity to see Matthew live in an intimate setting, on his own terms. There will be no pool balls clicking in the background and god help you if he hears you talking during the set… cell phone owners, switch to silent or die!
So get on into your car, book a cab, arrange for Goodfellas to collect you, but come on down to the Bioscope on Saturday 5 May and see Matthew Van Der Want back in action. You can book tickets direct from The Bioscope by visiting http://www.thebioscope.co.za and you should cos it only seats about 60 peeps and tickets are going fast! It’s R60.00 for the show and Matthew will be selling albums as well… Maybe he’ll even autograph one for you!
For the more digitally minded you can also head on over to: http://matthewvanderwant.bandcamp.com
Where you can listen to the album and buy downloads!