London, Rainbow Theatre, 21 Nov 1977

3 Dec 1977
New Musical Express
Steve Clarke

John Martyn

PRESUMABLY, John Martyn, who's been around so long even his most devoted followers must take him for granted, doesn't give a monkey's toss about Making It In A Big Way, but there's still no excuses for the performer's lackadaisical attitude at the Rainbow last Monday.1
That the gig was still enjoyable, if hardly stimulating and occasionally dull (when Martyn, augmented by electric back-up, failed to extract any inspiration from his musicians on several pieces of rifferama), is a measure of Martyn's talent rather than his personality.

Technical problems continually thwarted the singer/ songwriter/ guitarist, but you'd have thought he'd have got things sorted out by now. He's no newcomer to the stage.
Still, he did perform two sets, the first occasionally augmented by the ever-present Danny Thompson, himself not the most together of men on Monday.

For the second, Martyn added electric bass, drums and keyboards,2 courtesy of Steve Winwood, super vague and about as loose as a blind man in a fog.
The lethargic Winwood did get to sing a couple of choruses on an excellent Over The Hill, Martyn's up-tempo strumalong, and play mandolin - and crack a joke, but his voice was barely recognisable from days of old.

Martyn's voice is still as good as ever it was. Sensual and totally irresistible, the perfect vehicle for his simultaneously mellow (no, not as in Barry Manilow) and muscular material.
Bringing together so many different types of music and fusing them together into such an attractive whole, Martyn is one of the most ignored innovators currently working in British rock.
Gigs like Monday's, however, aren't going to satisfy anyone other than the converted.

Steve Clarke

1 Monday was the 21st of November. Record Mirror announced the same concert for Sunday 20 so there might have been two.
2 The line-up was with the Gong rhythm secion, at the time Hansford Rowe (bass), Pierre Moerlen (drums).

Related to: