LSE, London

John Martyn: LSE, London.

ON A weekend when the Sex Pistols had yet more concerts cancelled following their (in) famous TV appearance, John Martyn made his 1976 debut on a British stage at the LSE following some dates in Norway; the only connection between the two being their language.

Martyn has belched and cursed on stage for years now — and he continued to do so on Saturday. Shock, horror — he smokes drugs as well. What gives for la nouvelle vague…?

But that is another story. John Martyn, unlike the Pistols, can play the guitar though the abysmal sound that plagued the evening prevented him and us from really getting off on the occasion and as an apology for the ‘frogs in his amp’ as he put it, he dedicated the last song, ‘May You Never’, to those gathered present.

Yet, despite a lack of magic moments, it was an evening of warmth and bonhomie. Such is Martyn’s charisma and professionalism as a performer that he has the rare gift of giving one the feeling that he’s asked you round to his place for an evening of music. I mean, how many times have you not seen someone from the audience offer him one of their joints?

The comparatively short set included standards (‘I’d Rather Be The Devil’, ‘Spencer The Rover’, ‘Solid Air’) as well as several new songs that encompassed the range of his last few albums; from a soft folk style through to his more aggressive, hypnotically layered ‘echo-plexed’ material.

Samuel Mowbray
11 December 1976?

LSE, London
1 December 1976?