Matthew and Me are a band who love to embrace the more unusual and inspiring of venues for their bespoke shows. For their spectacular Christmas concert on home turf in the Westcountry next weekend, the quintet have selected the moody and magical rocky environs of Carnglaze Caverns at St Neot, near Liskeard.
It's essentially a shallow cave, in the heart of woodland, that was used by the Royal Navy during the Second World War to store their rum supplies. Drips of water sometimes ooze from the rock face overhead, and it's no surprise to spot the occasional bat trying to hog the spotlight.
It promises to be the ideal dramatic setting for this powerful but dreamy pop ensemble from Totnes, whose big, lush, ambient, folky rock arrangements wrap themselves around singer and guitarist Matthew Board's distinctive top tenor tones.
In the past they have performed in an Elizabethan glasshouse, on a country estate, in a Great Hall, at sunset on Lusty Glaze beach and at St Pancras Old Church in London.
Matthew, Grace Billings, Andrew Hopper, Lucy Fawcett and Sam Craigan met while studying music at the former Dartington College of Arts and they have since been slowly honing their sound both live and in the recording studio.
Last seen down here opening the show for Jamie Cullum at Torquay's Princess Theatre – and thoroughly enchanting the crowd – they have since been busy working on their forthcoming EP at the renowned Rockfield Studios at Monmouth.
Due out next year on the independent Blanket Records label, it features four songs that will be on the band's setlist at Carnglaze and signposts the future direction of the band following an honest and instinctive path. These original compositions also draw on some intriguing stories from the past.
"Golden Charms will probably be a single and it's written about my great uncle Ian who used to run a famous club called the Colony Room," explains Matthew.
"I remember going there when I was just a baby and meeting all these wild, wild people."
Situated in London's Soho, the club was a haunt for bohemian artists and musicians, offering rich lyrical fuel.
Another new composition, September, is inspired by the late Harry Fulcher, Matthew's music teacher who "taught a scruffy, naughty teenage boy how to behave as a musician – it's quite an emotional song".
As well as a set from Matthew & Me, the evening will include performances from three other bands. Main support comes from the hotly tipped Cornish sister duo Hockeysmith, whose electro-flavoured shoe-gazey sounds are impressing the hottest bloggers. Two more Westcountry acts complete the bill playing short sets earlier in the evening – Sam Williams and the Bats from Truro, and The Livework Unit from Totnes.
Tickets for the show, at 7.30pm on Saturday, December 14, are available now via the Matthew and Me website at matthewandme.co.uk. It's advisable to wrap up warm – the cave can be chilly. There will be food and a bar, and there's also a special bus offering a return journey from Totnes for the evening.