A captivating night all round at Martyns 10th visit to Rugby Roots at the Lawrence Sheriff School on his tour to promote his new album Songs For the Coming Home .
This was 3 hours of first class acoustic music from two gifted performers, one sorcerer at the peak of his game (wearing a suit for the occasion, I should add) and one rapidly rising apprentice, and quite honestly, you could scarcely see the join, both were magnificent!
There is always a lovely atmosphere at any Rugby Roots gig , thanks in no small part to the promoters Richard and Anna Barnes, who are totally passionate about getting good quality music heard and determined that everyone has a good night.
The apprentice ; What can I say about Luke Jackson live? simply, he is a total revelation. I have listened to him on CD and watched videos for 3 years , and knew there was a real talent emerging, but this was the first time I had seen him play live and I have to declare I am struggling to be objective, quite simply he blew me away , I can’t remember the last time that happened. I am sure there were a few sitting there with the opinion that this would be a pleasant half hour which they would listen to politely until Martyn came on, such are the unenviable joys of a support act. However, within a verse of Run and Hide, Lukes opener, he had everyone completely spellbound. His command of the stage and his rapport with the audience belie his age. The belief and confidence in his songs and consummate guitar playing and the thoughtful delivery with sometimes piercing pure vocals was nothing short of dazzling, and his short set went by way too fast.
Artist’s website: http://www.lukepauljackson.co.uk/
Then came the maestro:
There are few things certain in life, there are the usual ones, death and taxes . However there is one other, and that is a Joseph concert is always an outstanding couple of hours, He has never given any less than 100% passion , honesty, compassion and insight and jaw dropping musicianship and this night was no exception. Martyn has played at Rugby 9 times before and this, his 10th, was up there with the best of them. There was an air that we were going to be treated to something special , a feeling that has been filtering through from previous dates on this tour.
There were many highlights, new songs and familiar ones from his back catalogue . The new album has been made three dimensional on this tour, stripped of the production but loaded with impact, from the spine tingling Crossing the Line with our added voices humming away underneath Martyns stark words to the stomping and rocking No time for God . Older favorites not heard for a while have been given an airing , Like the mesmerising All This Time, always a joy to hear and I Will Follow. There were some surprises, one special one was a breath-taking raw version of Springsteens classic The River upholding Martyns often used tag as Bruces Welsh counterpart, quite rightly so too.
The biggest highlight for me, and one that many seeing this tour will say in the future “I was there when ..” and which , for me was loaded with so much significance, was when Martyn asked Luke back on to duet with him on one of Luke’s own songs Bakers Woods. Forget the age and experience gap ,this was just two exceptional musicians totally in tune with each other. There was a tangible sense of a baton being handed over and there were moments that I really wanted to bottle, it was quite beautiful . In 30 plus years I have been involved in music and witnessing some meaningful events and gigs, this was one of those times that are on that rare list of truly momentous.
If nothing else came from Rugby one glaring thing was apparent and that is acoustic music doesn’t get much finer than this.
All I have left to say is to urge folk to get to one of the dates that are left on this tour…
“There are moments on this record that I will always treasure; small nuances of memory and recall that are both painful and joyous. The highlight for me is the song ‘Archive’. On long car journeys touring across Canada last year with poet, guru and friend Stewart Henderson we talked, and talked and went deeper and deeper. He started writing, and at some point on a prairie plain in Alberta he handed me some words on the back of an envelope. Months later in the early hours of the morning I took them to a microphone with no melodic agenda and just played and sang. The result was the first and only take that ended up on the album. Its me with my soul howling. Its what I like to do.” Martyn Joseph