The Victoria Inn, Derby
The Village in question appears to be Royston Vasey – or somewhere very similar. Where ‘Little Tom Peep’ and other oddballs make up the cast.
These Syd-esque creations are the work of Phil Matthews and he makes no secret of his influences. ‘Lionel Strange’ is, he tells us, a homage to the Pink Floyd front man, but while Barrett got fame early, burnt out and disappeared, Matthews is gigging well into his fifties and seems to be very pleased about it. He’s happy to joke about bagpipe players, the fortunes of Derby County FC and just about anything else.
Matthews is The Village tonight. The backing band heard on debut release Welcome To The Village are elsewhere. “We’re more like a hamlet tonight,” Matthews quips – and if he doesn’t reach every note he aims for, his world-weary tales of dashed hopes and defiance are probably all the better for it.
The half-rhyme and defiance of ‘That’s The Way It Is’ was well received by a youthful, good-humoured crowd gathered around the radiators in the chilly venue, and ‘Fifty Years’ was just as good; an ode to the joyless nine-to-five humdrum that Matthews has left behind.
He’s also been a football commentator. His catchphrase: “Derby County nil”. But what of the future? On the evidence of this all-too-brief set, Matthews, a good-natured, eccentric soul in pink socks, could be popular with music fans of a certain vintage well beyond the Derby pub circuit.
Maybe this Village isn’t just for local people after all.