Live Review: Matthew & The Atlas – Union Chapel, London

Generally speaking, Islington’s Union Chapel is a venue for which a lot of artists reserve their most stripped back sets, toying with new dynamics in songs and taking advantage of the unique acoustics in the space. Having released Temple (Unplugged) in December 2016, an acoustic re-imagining of their latest studio album, Matthew And The Atlas took a different approach to their recent performance at the chapel, teaming full on waves of indie folk rock with portions of pared down ambiance.

Kicking off with the anthemic and rousing Temple, it took a few numbers of energetic full-band backing before giving way to a moment of change heralded by a hypnotically sustained guitar solo. A shift in tone invited Matt Hegarty to hold the room in notable intensity with dreamy acoustic versions of much-loved songs including Old Master and Within The Rose, the swell of vocals reverberating perfectly.

Before a rapturous encore the main set closed on two contrasting moments: the almost choral starkness of Elijah, set against a dramatic and pounding take on Out Of The Darkness with talk of devils and brooding towers lending itself to a thrilling finale.

While perhaps Matthew and the Atlas could have played it safe with an all-acoustic set, this performance played to Hegarty’s strengths of conjuring emotional soundscapes for his audiences to lose themselves in – a well balanced blend of the delicate and the breathtaking.

Kerry Manning