Matilda Mann’s headlining debut in LA charms Moroccan Lounge

UK folk singer Matilda Mann charmed the socks off the crowd at The Moroccan Lounge on Thursday, playing a dozen songs and truly leaving the crowd wanting more. The show featured Mann solo with just a bunch of her guitars and stories, playing four of the five songs on her upcoming EP You Look Like You Can’t Swim, as well as a number of familiar favorites. She laughed a bit during her songs and beat any awkwardness with laughable moments  and it might as well have been Matilda Mann’s living room with her closest friends and family, because she was completely lighthearted in demeanor and cheerful about her debut headlining date in Los Angeles. The cherry on top is that the inflection in Mann’s voice also drew in the crowd the entire time.

Matilda Mann took the stage in a simple white t-shirt, picked up her guitar and said “Oh fuck.” Mann smiled throughout the opening song “Paper Mache World,” a 2020 track showcasing strong dynamics and her own alluring tone. She added mid-song, “sing along if you know it” and the fans sang the lyrics in a soft hum. “I find tuning really awkward, it’s like getting on a bus,” said Mann, which brought lots of laughs during the transition. She asked who watches The Office and who preferred the UK one, with one person cheering for that version. This set up “Stranger (for now)” which Mann added is about the relationship between Jim and Pam who start out as friends and they don’t want to rush into anything. After strumming the intro on guitar, Mann’s jazzy, bluesy tone took over with a lovely, delicate falsetto complementing her electric guitar. “I wrote a lot of these songs during lockdown,” shared Mann. She continued the self-deprecation, making fun of herself (as she did throughout the set) for watching so much TV and “having no life,” mentioning Gossip Girl prior to the surf-rock sound of “Japan” with beautiful falsetto at the end, earning her some wonderful cheers.

“I get so nervous when I play by myself in case I immediately forget what to play,” said Mann. Matilda Mann’s dynamics were excellent on new single “In Plain Sight,” smiling as she performed the pretty ditty. The lights went crazy and the crowd went “woo!” out of excitement and Mann said, “That was all planned.” After some more laughter at Moroccan Lounge, Mann said “The world can suck and then you meet someone,” talking about her boyfriend and new song “The Day That I Met You,” with magenta disco balls lit up and spinning gently around the room. If a mini genre is forming at the moment, this song should be added to the playlist that also includes tunes by singer-songwriters with jazzy inflections who are making an impact right now, from Stephen Sanchez to Lizzy McAlpine to Jacob Collier to Victoria Canal. A fan said “it is time to cry” and Mann repeated that back to the fan before starting “The Day That I Met You,” with fans singing along. It was one of the best of the night, with the lyric “I forgave the world the day that I met you,” just a wonderful compliment for another person.

“I love playing in America,” said Mann. “Slay and Fire are much more exciting words than alright mate.” Matilda Mann’s flickering guitar intro was lovely on new tune “Margaux,” illustrating just how special of a storyteller she is, adding a little smirk at the end for her fans. The new EP’s title track “You Look Like You Can’t Swim” found Mann switching guitars and adding a reference to the Fleabag series, adding that she only played the song once and that she wrote it in LA. “Cue the disco ball,” said the singer ahead of “Doomsday” and right on point the lights were lit again for 2021’s “Doomsday,” which Mann mentioned she wrote during the pandemic. “If you’re with someone, give them a hug or if you’re alone give yourself a hug.” She was back on electric guitar for the lovely ballad, a sort of fantasy song about a fictional wedding. The lyric “Before the world is through, I hope I get to live a life next to you.” Mann smiled on this one too and sweet da-da-das closed out the number in her angelic falsetto with the audience loving it.

Matilda Mann mentioned next song “The Loch Ness Monster” is a little creepy and her voice completely silenced the crowd on this one, holding everyone’s attention, going up to her falsetto and giving moments of other starlets like Billie Eilish and Lorde. She made a goofy face moving to the final chords of the tune and made everyone chuckle. ” I have two more —well three, but we’re gonna do adult peek-a-boo,” said Mann, followed by rousing laughter. Pretty ballad and somewhat older song “My Point Of View” was next followed by a slight shift in energy with more power coming from Mann’s voice on the pop/rock song “Borderline Insane.” With a band, this one would totally fly but Mann’s inviting voice and confident electric guitar strumming did the trick. Mann winked at everyone as she “walked off stage” for her encore and emerged for the fun mid-tempo “Bloom,” another feel-good pop-rock song with more “da-da-das” getting the crowd joining in for one last call-and-response.

Words by Michael Menachem
Images by Justin Higuchi