ALL the ingredients were there -an extremely talented guitarist and a dedicated audience- but the atmosphere was flat at the John Martyn concert on Thursday night. Martyn is a British guitarist who cannot be classified as a pure folk musician but is an interesting mixture of folk, blues and electrical effects.
The concert, held at the Canberra Theatre, which was about half full, was just okay. Martyn is capable of moulding his music and his audience and whether it was the unreceptive audience or Martyn, the combination just didn't click.
Not that Martyn isn't worth seeing in concert. With his husky voice and the electrical multi-pedal effects you wonder how one person could produce such an incredible array of sounds. You often want to capture a particular sound and keep it going.
Martyn has diverse talents doing high-powered, electrical excitement songs such as Big Muff and Dealer from his latest One World album to the soft, folk numbers such as May You Never and One Day Without You where he relaxes right down.
Although a folk-type musician should chat to the audience between songs and ramble about the background to songs, Martyn's raves were sometimes tedious. I wonder where he dragged up the rather crude joke about the eskimo.
Margret Roadknight, the supporting act, as usual, extremely good. Although she didn't get much singing along to her very amusing Libel song, the audience seemed to respond very well to her. Roadknight has a striking presence on stage and her folk-blues combination of songs were sometimes amusing, sometimes sad.
She sung the well-known Bob Hudson composition Girls In Our Town and Randy Newman's song Short People, with Roadknight making a few jokes saying that Newman wrote the song for her (Margret is a very tall woman).
Another enjoyable song was from her second and latest album Ice, which is about the coming Ice Age that Roadknight says is on the way. As she said, "It was very cold this morning, wasn't it?"
This review was published Saturday 15 July 1978 on page 14 of the Canberra Times.