The Stables, Milton Keynes

Another great night at the Stables, with in the incomparable John Martyn – although John didn’t seem to know where he was – “Its great to be here, wherever we are, and if we’ve been here before, its great to be back!”.  Although I wasn’t sure what to expect, given Johns recent operation, it was a very  pleasant surprise to see the big man walking on stage, to some celtic music and an almost biblical crook to steady himself. Talk about Return of the King ???

He settled himself with his Gibson SG, he was a little rounder than in previous years perhaps but still full of energy as he launched into the first half set which included a few new songs (notably My creator), but with a healthy doze of oldies for the knee slappers to join in on. It lasted 30 minutes or so until he took a 20 minute break. The second set included a tuning episode to sing Suzanne that was as long as the song !, a discussion on nappy rash which had us all laughing, a description of going to the pub in his wheelchair and feeling like a 4 year old because he didn’t reach the bar with his nose ! Then the acoustic guitar came out and he did one of the best versions of Easy Blues I have heard. I could see his fingers flying but I couldn’t tell you where they were hitting. It was mesmerising. May You Never got its usual reception and Don’t wanna know about evil was beautiful. He even had the good sense to throw in Rock Salt and Nails and Glory Box which were great. She’s a lover schmoozed its way into the usual Solid Air combo and back out into a new song – the title of which escapes me !

He rounded off with Never let me go, as his encore (he explained that getting off stage and on stage was taking its toll so he wasn’t going to come back out !)

I have missed out a load of songs but it matters not, as the main man was back, sounding great and long may he continue. He was having to put up with practical jokes from John Giblin and Spencer giving him the odd funny look to put him off but he sailed through it and went down a storm. Come back soon John and the crowd from Buckingham will be front row centre !

Dave Crawford