Getting To Know: Little Matador
Thursday 7th August 2014 – Oh Yeah Music Centre
It isn’t often you get the opportunity to go to the most intimate of gigs with 2 of the worlds greatest musicians that we grew ourselves right here in Northern Ireland. Getting To Know: Little Matador was one of these occasions.
The setting is the uber cool Oh Yeah Centre, the Cathedral Quarters music hub. It is dark, but there’s a buzz in the air as people take to their seats in front of the stage whilst Northern Irish music legends watch on from the walls. This is intimate. There are 40 people getting this opportunity. The stage is set with a comfy tiger stripe sofa and matching armchair, two guitars and two mics for the acoustic treat.
Nathan Connolly and Dave LaFaro take to the stage. Ok so it’s really Dave Magee… but the world has rechristened him LaFaro so that’s what he will for ever be to us. Interviewer tonight is Joe Lindsay, DJ, promoter & journalist; the chemistry is electric. There is something to be said about having an interview session where everyone involved are long established friends, the banter flows freely from the first question. The interview prep beforehand turned into a Guinness session… it’s very relaxed. It’s like we are sitting in someone’s living room, having a drink and some craic.
Joe Lindsay’s questions are articulate and original, probing into the origins of Little Matador and not playing safe with the hum drum usual suspect questions of Snow Patrol and beyond. Nathan and Dave share the foundations of the group, their beginnings and the song writing process of the self entitled debut album that was released earlier in the year. It’s a personal album from Nathans point of view, a vent of past turmoil and experience, which is not probed or pushed, but catching the songs acoustically instead of in their normal face melt rock out riff style you can hear and feel every lyric. It’s a beautiful thing to witness.
The craic is flowing as is the wine on stage. A reference from Joe about a recent gig in Dublin where Nathan bought the whole room whiskey swiftly breaks into the cracks of the Bushmills from the bar being opened and shots passed round much to everyone’s amusement. No sooner does Dave have his and it’s all over the rug onstage in comedic slow motion, the room howls. Nathan and Dave perform acoustic versions of ‘Stitch Yourself Up’, ‘Reasons’ and ‘Leaving Anyway’. To hear each of these songs stripped back is an absolute treat. The raw, beautiful lyrics and flawless vocals are decadent.
Nathan and Dave share stories of recording, LA trips, hiding out in Bushmills (the town, not the distillery) to write what is easily one of the best albums around at the moment. Their tell us of their nerves of the first play of the album to their other bands members and their families, which of course went down a storm; it was wonderful to see such well known figures from such huge bands are still as humble and down to earth as the day they started. The room is in eruptions at the stories of the video shoots, namely Stitch Yourself Up in which Nathan has a smooch with an older dear in a burlesque outfit. She is apologising in posh tones and politely for smoking, he’s apologising for being hung over, setting the scene for a dark but fun video of a self described heavy lyrical song.
The floor is opened to questions, and a young local band asks Nathan for advice. The time and experience he shares will no doubt be beneficial. Nathan asks what the bands name is. The Late Twos. The absolute delight on Matty and Bicks face when all three on stage shout with pure excitement that they know their stuff and that they are great is a fantastic thing to watch. A chorus of “you are The Late Twos?! Aye you’ll be grand” is heartwarming. And they will be.
They close on a cover of Lorde – ‘Royals’. I never get sick of hearing this. It’s better than the original in my opinion and the room sings along. A perfect end to a fantastic experience.