Dean McAdam's verdict: three stars
There is something extremely apt in the choice of Byres Road’s most notable landmark for Matt Cardle's show.
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Less than three years ago, Cardle was largely cast as another faceless product of the X-Factor assembly line after claiming success in the 2010 edition of the show.
Now, in a renowned venue that in the past decade has undergone a major renovation project, Cardle is continuing a similar transition by comfortably establishing himself as something just a little different from the rest.
His stop at Oran Mor marks the halfway point of his eight-leg ‘Unplugged’ tour, following from three performances across the Irish Sea.
In front of a sold-out audience, Cardle largely drew from his two debut albums, Letters and The Fire, interspersed with a notable nod towards prominent female solo artists in the form of Thank You and Set Fire to the Rain, tipping his hat to Alanis Morissette and Adele respectively.
Cardle began his acoustic set to a rapturous reception, with a performance of Letters, a slow-tempo number that accentuates his crystal-clear falsetto whilst setting the steady, safe approach evident throughout.
This minimalist approach appears to suit Cardle, delivering an assured introduction. This less-is-more attitude similarly pays off with a high-tempo rendition of Amy Winehouse’s You Know I’m No Good, touching on his X-Factor roots with a strong vocal presence.
Indeed, Cardle delivers his strongest performances on his cover versions. His homage to Adele is surprisingly adept, bringing an impressive clarity to a challenging number by providing a delicate, emotionally-connected effort.
Against this, there appears to be a drop-off in both tempo and lyrical edge in some earlier efforts from his debut album. In particular, When We Collide and Lost And Found are comfortably sung, but appear to be well within Cardle’s vocal range, and this caution has the undesired effect of dragging these numbers into melancholy at parts.
However, he finishes on a high with a stirring rendition of It’s Only Love, and leaves the best for the very end with a stand-out performance of First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, one that provides real gravity and passion and provides a fitting climax to his new venture.