LIVE – Matt Maltese + Sophie May @ Mama Roux’s, Birmingham, UK

Review and Photography by Charlie Tennant

A tight performance from Matt and the band, supported by a true folk-pop rising star.

Opening the night was 23 year old singer-songwriter Sophie May who recently released her debut
EP, “You Do Not Have To Be Good” after gaining a huge following on TikTok through the 2020 and
2021 enforced lockdowns.

Carving her own unique sound, Sophie May delivers a personal touch on the folk-pop genre. And it
really is no wonder the likes of Billie Eilish have branded her lyrics “beautiful”.

May writes with genuine honesty, with elements of wit in one breath and emotional vulnerability in
another, clearly striking relatable chords amongst a diverse audience through each song. Admitting
it is her first tour, May’s comfortable stage presence and inclusive audience interaction could have
convinced us she’s played areas before now.

Walking on stage to a loud, roaring audience, Matt Maltese, bass player Jamien and drummer
Jamie waste no time getting stuck into the set, performing songs from across Matt’s impressive

I’ve seen Matt perform a handful of times now in various venues and his humble and natural
presence never fails to contribute to the show.

A few songs in, Matt introduces his next song “Mother”, an unreleased piano-driven ballad
reminiscent about how when you break up with someone your family loses them too. A beautiful,
nostalgic sound which the fans loved.

Continuing to sound tight, Matt and the band follow with “Like A Fish” and “Strange Time”, which
was followed by a catchy, bossa nova rendition which the crowd took a real liking to. Matt joked
afterwards that “in a parallel universe, we’d just be doing that all day, every day”. A parallel
universe that I definitely wouldn’t mind living in.

Playing more recent tracks “Curl Up And Die” and “You Deserve An Oscar” before taking things
down a notch with slower, more intimate “Studio 6” from Matt’s first 2016 EP, “In a New Bed”.
Matt and the band continue to grace the night with hits “Krystal”, “When You Wash Your Hair”,
“Krakow” and “Mystery”. Setting the scene with an anecdote involving an Airbnb and forbidden ice
creams, the guys dive in to ‘Nightclub Love’ from his 2018 debut album ‘Bad Contestant’.

Commenting that this is one of the loudest audiences they’ve ever played to, I agree that it was
indeed very loud, and I must admit that, except for the applauds and warm responses to Matt’s
anecdotes between songs, much of the crowd seemingly just wanted to talk to one another, and
this lack of a truly captivated audience (from the middle of the crowd, at least) throughout some of
the songs detracted from the night slightly for me.

Nevertheless Matt and the band close the night with fan-favourite “As the World Caves In”, a
classic single of which Matt’s lyrics capture the essence of the disastrous state of world politics.
Sneaking back onto stage for one more, Matt performs one of his latest, raw tracks, “Smile in the
Face of the Devil” solo. A real gem for those in the audience this evening.

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