Matt Irving – RIP Amigo
The longer we knew Matty the more impressive he became. Keyboard player, composer, singer, songwriter, accordionist, arranger, bass player, he sounds almost over-qualified to play in Los Pacaminos but this impressive list was only a small part of Matty’s real talent.He was a true team player, brother, a fantastic performer and master of the musical understatement.
Matt the piano player had classical music under his fingertips but would be most likely to give you a rendition of it with his hat turned sideways Napoleon style for comic effect.Then there was Matt the accordionist who played with a brilliant unique style and sound, authentically Tex Mex and the envy of many other more serous accordion players.
It was obvious Matt loved and understood many genres of music. PY said only a week before he left us “Matty got it”; he really got the vibe.
When he wrote songs for Los Pacaminos he understood how to create a movie in the mind of the listener. You couldn’t fail to love those “Poor Boys ” in his hilarious and brilliantly written song about a calamitous drunken gang of Mexican bank robbers almost certainly inspired by Los Pacaminos. You can hear Matt right now saying “don’t forget to tell em about the new album it’s available up the back “.
Matt’s natural wit would be the envy of any professional comic; he regularly reduced a bunch of hard bitten cowboys to tears with just a couple of well chosen words, a knowing look or one perfectly timed eyebrow. When tough decisions needed to be taken or the band needed rounding up, it was responsible Matt Irving who would call a meeting, making sure that business was taken care of with the shrewd efficiency of a trained accountant or manager.
Unbelievably for someone with all this going on he quietly studied away in the background and became a working psychologist. It seemed surprising at first, but long before he qualified you knew you trusted his judgement and when you really thought about it he was perfect for the job.
It made sense because Matt was a great listener…very articulate calm and reassuring like a professional pilot who encourages nervous flyers to rest easy and enjoy their journey.
Perhaps most importantly there was Matt the cat with nine lives who so often cheated death even though he had been shown the door a few times. You might never know he was a guy who carried a titanium heart valve clicking in his chest. Typically for him the valve worked on years after its expiry date .
His biggest battle in life was with cancer and the terrible effects of successive bouts of chemotherapy, won and finally lost. Liz supported him throughout, and we know without her efforts he couldn’t have made it so far. They both put up an incredible fight and thanks to Liz, Matty dear boy, you were still playing and recording even when you had lost most of your physical strength.
We were always glad to see you and It was obvious you loved being around your band mates
You’d probably hate us for all this gushy stuff about what a great bloke you were and how you were a true friend to us individually and how you warmed our lives etc etc, but sorry Matt, things have to be said.
Oscar Wilde once said the definition of a true gentleman is someone who knows how to play the accordion and doesn’t. You proved him wrong – you really were a gentle man.
Over the last last 20 something years Los Pacaminos’ stage set has come to include a 4ft high pair of cowboy boots which stand at the back of the stage. They’re a great stage prop carried around from gig to gig by Roger and Radar probably to remind some of us which band we’re playing in. It’s hard to remember a time when they weren’t there. But maybe from now on they will remind us of you Matty boy: your talent, your humour, your friendship, and how impossible it would ever be to fill your boots.
We will all miss you greatly.