MARTYN JOSEPH – Live At St. David’s Hall (Pipe PRCD038)

LIve At St David's HallLive At St. David’s Hall is a low key release prior to the new studio album next year, recorded in Cardiff on February 7 this year at the sell-out 122nd and final, homecoming, show for his 1960 world tour. I don’t need to tell anyone who’s ever seen him that he’s an incredible live performer, investing power and passion into every second of every song with just his voice and a guitar, not to mention the electric rapport he has with his audience.

It opens in robust style as he launches straight into ‘Here Come The Young’ and from there, taking the pace down an intimate, pensive take on ‘Thunder And Rainbows’ before he bids Cardiff a good evening and launches into the reflective strummed ‘Born Too Late’ with its references to CSN&Y, Joni and Josephine Baker and its questioning refrain “how long does it take for a man to know himself?” That, of course, comes from 1960 itself, the album also represented by ‘Felt So Much’ and, wrapping it up, the anthemic ‘This Light Is Our’ with the audience in full flood.

The first call to get the crowd singing along, however, comes with ‘This Glass’, something they do enthusiastically on several occasions, picking up the chorus or singing lines back, though, given the nature of the recording, like some of the between song chat, it’s not always clearly audible.

The set list features two songs previously released as downloads and due to appear on the new album, the first being ‘I’d Take You Out’, a companion piece to Bruce Cockburn’s ‘If I Had A Rocket Launcher’, written and released digitally in 2022 in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, directed at Putin, who he mentions directly here unlike the original version, as he sings “For you I can’t find mercy in my soul/And if I could I’d leave it well alone/My blood’s on fire and I have no doubt/I’d lose my soul, but I’d take you out”. In complete emotional and moral contrast, the other is ‘Albert’s Place’, the song commission by Radio 2’s 21st Century Folk project and a tribute to Andrea Bell, who along with other volunteers, runs The Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen, serving the homeless and anyone struggling financially, offering “humanity in a cup of love”.

Elsewhere, he ranges back and forth over his extensive back catalogue, offering an amusing introduction to his 1992 Top 40 hit ‘Dolphins Make Me Cry’ from his Being There Sony debut and originally appearing the previous year in a more uptempo version on his self-released Treasure The Questions, alongside a strikingly compelling audience joining in rendition of ‘Dic Penderyn’ and, inevitably, ‘Cardiff Bay’ off Evolved, ‘Nye’ off the pandemic EP When We Get Through This’, the driving ‘I Searched For You’ from Sanctuary, and the autobiographical father-daughter encore ‘Driving Her Back To London’ from Here Come The Young.

I don’t know if this was the full set as performed on the night, given the set lists for other shows, which were in two halves, included things like ‘Working Mother’, ‘There Is A Field’ ‘When We Get Through This’ and his cover of ‘Witchita Lineman’, but, even if not, as with every performance he gives, you’re never left feeling shortchanged.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website:

‘I’d Take You Out’ – live at Cropredy: