The Apprentice Tour (Video)

JOHN MARTYN The Apprentice Tour.


JOHN MARTYN’s recorded work as a folk/jazz singer/songwriter is impressive, but it’s live that he really communicates, splicing memorable songs and instrumentals with the right amount of improvisation and comic banter. That’s why his 1975 ‘Live At Leeds’ bootleg sold by the truckload and why this recent Shaw Theatre performance is great viewing.

A portly, hirsute Martyn strolls on, acoustic in hand, and fires off ‘Easy Blues’ and May You Never’ from ’73’s ‘Solid Air album. Then come some tongue-in-cheek remarks about the Poll Tax, a change of axe to a Les Paul and into a mesmerising echoplex jam of ‘Dealer’ and ‘Outside In’ that’s up there with the best of his immaculate ’70s work. The bulk of the rest is ’80s ensemble pieces which bring his band into full swing. ‘Never Let Me Go’, ‘Sapphire’ and ‘Sweet Little Mystery’ are beautiful reference points in how to play the coolest of cool jazz; ‘The Apprentice’ is a peak of excellence; and in comes Dave Gilmour of the Floyd for some risque atmospheric music that stretcher things from ambient to Arabia. The closing ‘One World’ will simply take your breath away.

Mark Prendergast
1 August 1990