Dominion Theatre, London

JOHN MARTYN:Dominion, London.

FRESH from conquering Canada, and with ‘Grace And Danger” still selling healthily, John Martyn has forsaken his traditionally tasteful low-profile of protracted inter-tour siestas and legless hit-or-miss on-stage binges in a concerted effort to become, as he so lovably and laughably puts it, “a superstar in my spare time.”

Lazily relying on fin his own apt words) ”raves from the grave” to appease a conservatively sycophantic audience, Martyn seemed disappointingly reticent to kick off the cobwebs and showcase his more thrilling and risky contemporary influences, like the superb reggae-rocker “Johnny Too Bad.”

With the most emotionally expressive voice currently on the market and a cool guitar technique that, for years now, has been leaving Cooder, J J Cale and other more celebrated string-picking crooners in the shade, maybe it’s unfair to criticise his new venture, especially at this early stage.

But until he cuts that umbilical cord with his past, starts to perform without the safety net of his bulging back-catalogue, begins to write specifically with a band in mind and gives communal ideas time to develop, Martyn’s material will continue to suggest more solo efforts clumsily embroidered.

That said, Sunday night was a splendid success but next time please, a little less grace and a little more danger.

Steve Sutherland
Melody Maker
30 May 1981

Dominion Theatre, London
24 May 1981