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Matt Berry and the Maypoles: Live

Yes we can hear you, Matt Berry…

He’s best known as a comic actor, but with several well-received albums under his belt and a recent support slot at Steven Wilson’s sold-out Royal Albert Hall gig, nobody could accuse Matt Berry of being a musical dilettante moonlighting from the day job.

As several of the songs on this album, drawn from Witchhazel and Kill The Wolf, are apparently about to be retired from his live set list, the multi-instrumentalist and singer says, “I thought it would be a good idea to literally have a ‘record’ of them.” A good thing too, as there’s a lot to like across this disc, as Berry and his Maypoles run through some agreeably loose-limbed renditions before numerous extremely enthusiastic crowds. It’s a skilful, well-crafted potpourri drawing on some truly incongruous bedfellows – cheesy 70s porno soundtrack, vintage guitar-based euro beat, electric folk and prog. On the anthemic Solstice, the instrumental bridging sections evoke the autumnal moods which the Strawbs expertly conjured on Hero And Heroine. It’s an odd mix, but neither ironic nor piss-take; it’s something that has a deep resonance with Berry’s psyche. He clearly takes this as seriously as he does his comedy.