Matt Maltese at The Workman’s Club, Dublin on the 21st of November 2018.

Self-proclaimed Brexit pop pioneer Matt Maltese brought his sumptuous debut album ‘Bad Contestant’ to the Workman’s Club Dublin last night. Dressed in a suit that could only be described as station-wagon wood-panel brown, Maltese brought The Workman’s on a whirlwind sightseeing tour of his failed relationships and hilarious mishaps, such as going ice skating with his mother under the influence of “a stupid drug”.

The show commences in suitably comedic fashion, when Maltese makes his drummer produce his passport so he can show it to the audience as a prop to explain how the show was in jeopardy because the travel document had experienced water damage…

Sweet 16 signifies what is to come, with Maltese creating lush harmonies alongside his accompanying trio of musicians. “I don’t know if anybody’s ever been in a love triangle. I highly recommend it” says Maltese, before a captivating performance of Like A Fish, in a move straight out of ‘Casanova’ era Divine Comedy.

Indeed, there are many echoes of Hannon throughout Maltese’s music; from the lush arrangements to the lover boy persona. Maltese is often cited as being the next Morrissey, but perhaps he has much more in common with our own Neil Hannon – besides a keyboard – than he ever will with the mercurial Mancunian.

Misery allows the band to let rip across a jammed-out section, with the guitarist, in particular, being allowed to go for it with some impressive fretwork. The bassist gets his moment in the sun later, when Maltese gets to his feet for the only time throughout the performance for a swaggering performance of Greatest Comedian.

There’s time for an impressive new song in the shape of You Don’t Even Try, which utilises some Frankie Valli-esque backing vocals towards the end.

However, the highlight of the evening comes in an astonishingly emotive rendition of current single Less and Less, perhaps the single greatest performance of a song this writer has ever witnessed in The Workman’s. There was a palpable sense of heartbreak and a hair-raising stillness in the room throughout, as Maltese bares his soul on the subject of trying to pick yourself up and find love again.

It’s rare that an artist lives up to the hype, but Matt Maltese’s Irish debut was a sight to behold. A thrilling ride through the morose comedy of modern living that we subject the human heart to in search of happiness. More than ever, we need this type of artist in our lives.

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