Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

Welcome back John. Martyn at his brilliant best as he returns to home town in a blaze of glory. Folk jazz maestro John Martyn made a triumphant return to his home town in a blaze of glory. With a shepherd’s crook the only indication that he had had a leg amputated below the knee after a simple injury became infected, Martyn was in ebullient and sober form.

He can still coax noises of breathless beauty from his guitar, at once tender and resonant. His voice, on Lookin’ On is a scat jazz, elastic, syllable stretching, lyric losing wonder and, if the between-song patter was largely unintelligible, the crowd were happy to chortle their approval.

Still highly original, his closest comparison is the mercurial Van Morrison, the only other artist to fuse so many genres successfully. As She’s A Lover segued into Solid Air, Martyn had never sounded so languidly relaxed.

If the rumours are true, Buddha is a better master than the bottle. The sound is so laid back, it’s like being wrapped in a blanket of warm cotton wool. Then, with the band off stage, Martyn launched into a blistering acoustic Jelly Roll Baker, his acoustic playing vibrant, ecstatic and powerful, devoid of the cheesy drum and keyboard sound which marred the latter part of the set.

In response to the thundering ovation for May You Never, Martyn growled: “It’s good to be loved.” And he was. Welcome back John.

Catriona Killin
Daily Record
14 May 2004

Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
10 May 2004