John Martyn: Royal Festival Hall

John Martyn: Royal Festival Hall. Friday 13th Septemeber 1996.

I grew up in a house where a large, 3D, purple, painting/sculpture of a nude woman hung on the wall in the bathroom. That woman was reputedly John Martyn’s ex-wife, Beverley, and I have And Time Outtrouble hearing his music or name without thinking about the full and voluptuous breasts that filled my pre-pubescent fantasies. So the news that Martyn would be playing a gig at the Royal Festival Hall hit me with a mixture of excitement and guilty pleasure.

Along with contemporaries like Al Stewart and Roy Harper, Martyn helped to define the folk-influenced singer/song-writer music of the ’70s. However, unlike the other two, Martyn has continued over 28 years and 24 albums to maintain a strong following while experimenting with jazz, blues, rock and reggae influences. Tonight’s show is to promote his new funked-up album, ‘And’, which is his first for Go! Discs, the stable that brought you Portishead, The Beautiful South and Paul Weller and describes itself as ‘a small but fucking stylish label’. It’s not big or clever to swear, you know, Nevertheless, ‘And’ is a stylish album, and even Martyn’s usual slurred vocals don’t annoy as much as they might. When he sings something like ‘Oh carm an you can jus’ like some lir doggydondoin’ somin”, you have no idea what he’s on about, but it sounds great. Add this new laid-back hip hop material to his already extensive back catalogue, and this guitarist/singer par excellence should provide a brilliant night for all.

Tim Arthur
Time Out
11-18 September 1996