Shaw Theatre, London

JOHN MARTYN: SHAW THEATRE, LONDON.

SCRUFFY as ever, Martyn shuffled onstage with a cardigan that tried to escape from his shoulders at every opportunity. He treats us to an acoustic version of “May You Never”, his voice dripping sweat and soul, dragging every ounce of emotion from the stunning song.

Assorted jazzers crowd the stage, following Martyn’s moves with care. With dances that Mary Margaret O’Hara would be proud of, he storms into “Deny This Love’ which dips and soars to points of unabashed emotion – reminiscent of Joe Cocker at his most inebriated. Tumultuous applause greets the arrival of Dave Gilmour, and I prepare for my evening to be ruined. But even he fits in to the relaxed style Martyn evokes, adding a weird Floydian feeling to this clever construction of sound.

Martyn gets particularly worked up for the breath taking “Apprentice”, slapping his head and pleading ‘What’s wrong?’ as the song erupts into a blaze of sound and colour. Tonight he dazzled, proving that musical proficiency doesn’t have to be dull. With his new album he may yet claim the crown of top balding man in rock and put that windbag Phil Collins firmly in his place.

Zane
Melody Maker
14 April 1990

Shaw Theatre, London
7 April 1990