Will Matt Corby ever be reviewed without a mention of Australian Idol? Not yet buddy.

It’s unfortunate, because the elitist denigration that slaps an artist across the face with a pimp hand every time those dreaded words are uttered does little to help anyone trying to launch their career. The artist can get themselves back into the good books, they just have to work that little bit harder (see: Lisa Mitchell).

Corby is also at another distinct disadvantage at gaining male fans – it’s just too easy to loathe him; what with his good looks, and his ability to hit that note that makes your girlfriend’s knees tremble. Or that despite his undeniable talent and success for someone so young, he seems to be incredibly modest, humble and grounded.

Petty as it may sound, it would have been a lot easier to assess Mr. Corby if he had sucked live. Unfortunately for the ego involved, he is pretty good live.

Better than pretty good – Matt Corby is pretty brilliant.

Opening with his electric guitar in tow, effects pedal at his feet, it was clear this was not going to be a night of soft pop/rock. As, unbeknownst to many, somewhere between his first EP (2009’s Songs For..) and the three times platinum 2011 EP, Into The Flame, Corby morphed into a gritty, bluesy sex god; selling his soul at the Crossroads to write six minute proggy soul-folk.

Songs such as ‘Winter’, and ‘Breathe’ sit beautifully alongside ‘Untitled’ and ‘Lighthome’ and for the majority of the evening, he stands in his ‘stage left’ spotlight, alternating between his two microphones. One for singing, one for those “oohhhs” and “aaahhhs” so common in his music.

If you need to coach the 21-year-old at all, it would be to calm down the vocal gymnastics. Everyone loves a well-placed howl here and there, but at times you feel a little more restraint would only make his robust moments more powerful.

‘Made of Stone’ and ‘Big Eyes’, the latter a duet with the stunning Bree Tranter (of the now-defunct folk outfit The Middle East) are only proof of this, with their powerful delicacy silencing the crowd to a point where you can hear Corby’s intake of breath.

In many ways ‘Brother’ could have been Corby’s ‘Little Lion Man’, the mega-hit that unraveled the thread; a dangerous combination of overplay on commercial radio and teeny bopper adoration meant the legacy of the song would be left to how the man himself treated it. Admirably, it is not held up on the pedestal its Hottest 100 status had placed it on, instead it is unceremoniously played mid-set, as if any other track in his repertoire.

By dropping the track every fangirl and boy had been waiting for twenty-five minutes into the gig, the crowd could get back to listening to the amazing music instead of waiting to sing that catchy vocal wolf call.

Finishing the set with ‘Kings, Queens, Beggars & Thieves’ and the masterful ‘Soul’s A’Fire’ – easily the most accomplished song he’s written -the previously subdued crowd came to life; stomping a beat that built to the final crescendo that went guns a ‘blazing into the night over a staccato guitar solo shredding everything around it.

Back in 2007, Matt Corby was trying to sound like Damien Rice, but five years later, he matches everything about the self-exiled Irish troubadour. No amount of ‘you go girl’s from Marcia could do justice to an artist who not only can claim one of the best voices in the country, but in only a few months one that will have the ammunition to prove he’s one of our best song-writers as well.

Consider this reviewer converted, and while the stigma of that Corporate Channel Ten Curse might follow him around a little while longer, it’s now a bit comical to think that he lost to Natalie Gauci. What’s she up to these days?

– Chris Lewis