Matthew Frederick

Live : Matthew Frederick Solo

3rd Space is a compact place - there is a foyer, a small bar area and a back music room about twice the size of a large lounge. It is as intimate, welcoming and authentic a venue as you could hope to find anywhere along the North Wales coast. The acoustics are very good.

Late March, Climbing Trees' Matthew Frederick appeared at 3rd Space solo, headlining an all-day line up of local artists, the first in a planned series of mini-festivals. Before his set, Llandudno singer-songwriter Arthur Woodcock impressed, Jack Ranshaw perilously rocked a hard post punk vibe as much as a man possibly can with an acoustic guitar and Brandon Ridley's slight diffidence between songs belied his talent - which shone most on a literal reading of Dylan's Don't Think Twice, delivered with the resigned emotion of the original intact. Ridley also had the day's best hat.

Frederick's grand finale to the day included a power cut, a spontaneous community singalong, illuminated sunglasses Elton John may have rejected as garish, a heartfelt kazoo solo or two from Caernarfon singer-songwriter and audience member Eve Goodman, and a great deal of deserved applause.

Before a rolling encore, ten self-described 'misery ballads' were sandwiched between two piano-based blues numbers; all lightened and contrasted by the showmanship and humour Frederick brings to any stage. However it reads on a screen, in life it was an hour's glorious entertainment, with the minimal rendering of Climbing Trees' songs and his latest solo writing standing out the most.

Opening plaintively with Little Heart off his Live at Long Row CD, the majesty of Fall/Home then set the standard for what was to follow.

For a performer strongly associated with the keyboard, unexpectedly two of the evening's highlights abutted each other in a run of songs played on guitar; in its enforced simplicity Climbing Trees' 2017 single Lost was simultaneously elegant and wistful, whilst new song Obsolete confirmed Frederick's ability to paint emotion with the lightest of brushstrokes.

Again relatively new, the set crescendo was undoubtedly Laura Jones, which has a chorus that will follow you around for days after listening. It probably deserves to be reworded and immortalised as a football chant.

A rousing take on Billy Joel's Piano Man served as a final encore; a signal from Frederick's own musical hinterland.

Live Climbing Trees in full flight have a high-flying magnificence - big music as The Waterboys' Mike Scott might have imagined it had he grown up in the Rhondda; stripped back to an acoustic format they can be sublime. Solo their frontman Matthew Frederick offers charisma, heartfelt songs and a compelling ability to conjure an emotion with piano and voice; the result, a minor-key delight.

Six stars out of seven for a memorable show, with an extra half awarded for the sheer glee of it.


Set List

  • Little Heart
  • Fall / Home
  • Somewhere, Someday
  • Leave The Light On
  • Venus & Mars
  • Tell Me
  • Tracks
  • Lost
  • Obsolete
  • Red Dress
  • Laura Jones
  • My Woman
  • Piano Man


MATTHEW FREDERICK I Home (The Vault Sessions)