London Dominion

JOHN MARTYN: London Dominion.

I SOMEHOW lost track of John Martyn’s recorded progress round ‘One World’ so, with news of the excellence of his new album ringing in my ears, this was to have been a re-induction.

Nothing, however, happened here to make me feel I had missed anything of great import. What once had constituted a great adventure from wispy, shady Paths to the centre of the maelstrom, now seems a somewhat forced trek through the booming empty darklands.

Things didn’t go welt from the start with the dreadful acoustics making the re-worked ‘Don’t Want To know’ sound messy and unfocused: Marty,-,5 unique guitar phrases bouncing around, but never off, accomplice Patterson’s synth-burbles, Not a pretty noise, not even an effectively cacophonous one. ‘Root Love’, from the neglected ‘Sunday’s Child collection, began promisingly but something nagged and my mind wandered, and wondered if things would settle down.

Lowpoint of the evening was the lacklustre ‘Johnny Too Bad’, barely shifting along as the guitar and synthesiser combined to produce an ugly, relentless sound that just went on and on- this was the man who played Burning Spear’s Man in the Hills’?

Tonight’s highlights were the whimsical renditions of ‘Over The Rainbow’ and ‘Singing in The Rain’ – get the picture? The audience lapped it up but he’s always had a blindly loyal following. He used to shake them up from time to time but, this time round, “that certain surprise” was just another damp squib.

Sean O’Hagan
1 June 1981?