13th April 2022

Live Review: CMAT at The Deaf Institute

Irish country-pop sensation CMAT thrilled The Deaf Institute’s audience during her first UK headline tour
Live Review: CMAT at The Deaf Institute
Photo: CMAT at The Deaf Institute, shot by Annabel Benton @ The Mancunion

CMAT arrived at The Deaf Institute on her first UK headline tour a month after the release of her debut album If My Wife Knew I’d Be Dead. The timing is perfect for an artist who is on the rise for a reason, with the expectant crowd promised a live performance of a debut record which is a truly individual blend of strong country and pop influences. The gig began with ‘Nashville’, an ode to the artist’s country and Western inspirations and befitting of the dozen or so cowboy hats in the audience. ‘Loney’ followed, somewhat ironic for what already felt like a very welcoming gig.

Photo: ‘Rodney’ shot by Annabel Benton @ The Mancunion

Despite her love of country, the album and CMAT’s brand is also rooted in pop music and this genre pushing mix was evident throughout the set, such as in the next song ‘I Don’t Really Care for You’. The song combines a strong drum beat and catchy, ethereal lyrics which had a sense of Kate Bush when performed live. ‘Groundhog Day’ kept with the heavy guitar and piano, although was noticeably rhythmically more inspired by country music. The move between the two songs felt natural, a true marker of the artist’s versatility.

‘Peter Bogdanovich’ saw CMAT sit down to play an omnichord for the song which she described as marrying her “love of the cinema of the 1970s” with her “love of bastards”. This was when the dancing really began, as, having placed aside both her guitar and the omnichord, CMAT took to extravagantly performing the lyrics, accompanied by some dramatic kicks for good measure. ‘I’d Want You’ followed and lowered the energy levels in the room in the best way possible, as the band sat back and CMAT played the guitar for what is probably her most recognisably country song from her debut album.

‘Communion’ and ‘2 Wrecked 2 Care’ returned the music to something more uptempo, before the artist introduced her “wildly underrated” single ‘Rodney’, which was accompanied by saxophone. The sax also accompanied ‘Another Day (kfc)’, the artist’s first single on Spotify. Both songs with the six piece band were amazing, their stage presence and rich sound filling the venue to far past its 260 person capacity. Because of this, by the time the band played the opening notes to ‘No More Virgos’ the gig was in full swing, and the energy only got higher during ‘Every Bottle (Is My Boyfriend)’. The artist, band and the crowd were dancing around throughout both songs.

Photo: ‘Geography Teacher’ shot by Annabel Benton @ The Mancunion

The band briefly left the curtained stage before the joyful encore of ‘Geography Teacher’ and ‘I Wanna Be a Cowboy, Baby!’. For the first song of the encore the audience were treated to CMAT playing the banjo, as she sat alone atop a stool without her band and made full use of the intimate nature of the venue.

The final song of the night was introduced with instructions for line dancing in the crowd and for the lighting team to get The Deaf Institute’s huge disco ball in full spin – the disco ball was slightly more successful than coordinating a crowd of 200 people into country dance! However, the crowd was still singing and spinning along to the ode to cowboys, which lasted for twice its usual running time for cheers for the band.

Following a final few run throughs of the chorus, the band and CMAT left the stage after over an hour of joy, dancing and country-pop. CMAT’s stage presence and ability to make a small venue feel far bigger than it is was perhaps the most impressive part of the gig, and I have no doubt that she’ll be just as captivating in the larger venue Gorilla when she returns to Manchester in November.

You can buy tickets to CMAT’s autumn tour of the UK here.

Annabel Benton

Annabel Benton

Co-Lifestyle Editor for The Mancunion // Twitter: @AnnabelBenton_

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