ONE THING John Martyn couldn’t and wouldn’t want to deny about the behaviour of the 700 music lovers at The Citadel, Leith is that his guitar artistry captured their absolute, total and undivided attention. There was complete and utter quiet as they absorbed every note.
In fact, in the still of the night, Martyn took it upon himself to enquire if there was anybody out there. Lapsing into an exaggerated Scottish accent he said: “You’re awful quiet. Say something, even if it’s only assholes.”
He was in jocular mood all evening. “This sounds like a ukelele, does it sound like a ukelele out there?” followed by a quick burst of the George Formby’s with ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’. He switched from accent to accent as the mood grabbed him.
It was the music that grabbed me, there was so much of it to savour and it was by no means a one-man show. Danny Thompson was the predictable tower of strength on bass contributing some magnificent bowed playing behind Martyn’s acoustic guitar throughout ‘Spencer The Rover’, a hyper sensitive traditional English song featured on the Sunday’s Child’ album out this week.
There were more mellow sounds in ‘Head And Heart’, with Martyn’s vocal full of charm above the guitar. There was so much listenable stuff from Martyn and Thompson that one was loth to miss even the tuning up.
At length they were augmented by new resident member John Stevens on drums and he was quick to prove his worth with sensitive brush work on the title song from the ‘Solid Air’ album.
It was, however, the inter play between guitar and bass that made it all so stimulating. The pair’s understanding was often dazzling and quite remarkable, generating a big, gutsy sound round the hall. The jokes were the bonus.
1 January 1975
The Citadel, Leith
19 January 1975