Second Hand Thoughts

Devil's Roadshow - Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth - 29th of June 2005

by Kurt Cooder

The Wedgewood Rooms: If you’re Portsmouth born and bred, if you love music, this venue is usually first on the career ‘to do’ list. I’ve heard many stories of disappointment, disillusion and, more rarely, stories of triumph. One young man took to the stage on this night whose tales would certainly fall into the latter category. Strange mumblings and hushed anticipation could be heard throughout the venue, amidst the sounds of a hundred pairs of converse sneakers peeling from the infamously sticky floor. This was a 'cool' crowd, admirably sizeable, here to see one of Portsmouth’s finest new acts. Yet one or two faces seemed almost offended by the lack of drum kit and the addition of a stool, centre stage, for someone who would, in terms of his act, stand alone. This was Second Hand Thoughts, aka Matthew Harrison who, armed only with a seat and an acoustic guitar, gave the audience something wholly original, bordering on genius and rife with distinction. The first thing to be heard, as if he’d anticipated the atmosphere, was the intro to Metallica’s ‘Sanitarium’. Instantly, screams of joy and recognition erupted and Matthew settled immediately into his act. The intro bled deftly into his first song ‘Maple Drive’, which I later discovered is to appear on a CD with the beautiful, working title ‘Your Photographs At Arms Length’. By now the crowd were enraptured, in awe, and it became almost painfully apparent that something special was happening. As the set continued, 2HT became instantly established as a grand concept; one man and his guitar feeding tirelessly from a pool of modern punk and emo influences, without ever sounding like there were a few essential band members missing. With songs so well crafted - dynamically, emotionally and lyrically, you could be forgiven for thinking that this might be the 'next big thing'. ‘Dickie Gumbo’ has the punk-pop fervour of a hit, while ‘Deceits and Lies’ stands out as an emotionally intense mini masterpiece. The last tune and soon to be CD title, ‘Your Photographs At Arms Length’ was dedicated to the many friends made by Matt through and was in danger of lacking the presence of a finale piece - but was none the less worthwhile. It left the crowd yearning for more and, as he left the stage, he was obviously well ingrained in the hearts and minds of the people he would later have hug and congratulate him in abundance - proving that although on stage he is alone, he is very much a person for the people. After the show, the general opinion of the afore mentioned people seemed to be that he has some big brass bollocks to do what he does so well, which contradicts the very modest and quiet, almost shy young man you will meet face to face. Star quality indeed.