The Stables, Milton Keynes

Strange gig… I love john to bits and on the cobbles is a very fine album indeed – in fact one of his very best just on a first listening yesterday [8 may o4] – so what was the gig like? The stables was a bit stiff and clean, JM doesn’t need a seated audience in official rows, sitting on the floor or standing up close is more intimate, as at jazz cafe or lanterns… well the first relief was to see JM at all after the shock and mystery of the last tour being cancelled and all that has followed for him to deal with – though it hasn’t been much publicised and the brief facts of his trauma are not known by me, and where the cutting of cobblers came in the chronology I’m not sure.. the first set was tricky in so far as the sound balance was bad anyway and then altered to more of JM’s guitar on stage and less in the house so we could see JM working the guitar but heard very little. the drums were at most times over intrusive and played completely different to the mood and tone of some songs [but softened at times in the second half] – indeed JM used to have a go at drummers and say they were useless and did well without one at the time! JM missed the odd note and the first half was a bit of a battle for him and us but when it came together the genius is clear and obvious and thrilling…half the lies he tells you are not true, breathtakingly good the acoustic middle of set solo was hearteningly bang on form, just JM the guitar and us, cool.

The second half felt much tighter and together. Big double bass resonant, keyboards superb, percussion mainly more sympathetic – any chance of some brass? All in all I felt JM was remarkable for being there at all and like a footballer needing twenty games and more to recover after a serious injury JM’s voice and self confidence and guitar playing appear to need to get over the shock of what has been before, and if the love of us his fans are a part of the process then a brilliant future lies ahead.

All hail to the sensitive funny brilliant original [it’s all been said before and is true] hero who is our john martyn – thanks for everything and god bless.

Clive Lambert