John Martyn's concert at the Carlisle Hotel may have been his last in this country but it certainly will not have been one of his most memorable.
A good concert needs the co-operation of the audience, especially in a small hall such as that above the Carlisle Hotel, and this was sadly lacking at times on Friday last week1.
Despite repeated requests for a bit of quiet, the background chatter continued, not helped by the bar being open during John's performance, and only occasionally did his fine playing transcend the din – such as the excellent Inside Out.
But it is a tribute to his ability that the quality of the performance remained high – his masterly use of the guitar and the incredible sounds he wrings from it were untarnished. As were those lazy vocals that slip and slide in and out of the music.
A word, too, about Denny Thomson's [sic] bass – it was superb complementing perfectly Martyn's guitar and giving the music the depth that was needed to air John's style to the full.
Clearly, if he decides this was his last, of just one of a handful of concerts in this country, we are going to be much worse off without him and his original style. In that case, it would me more fitting to remember this concert for the music that was played rather than the bad manners of a minority of the audience.
1 The concert took place on Friday 9th January. The Hastings & St Leonards Observer being a weekly newspaper appearing on Fridays, places the publishing date on the 16th.
Phil Gill remembers the concert well:
"I was there, great gig. He had Stallion's PA - Digger and Dave the Plank sorted that and did his sound. JM's best put down of the night was aimed at a woman constantly talking loudly in the audience, and I quote: 'Look, I've got a 2000 watt PA here and I still can't hear myself for you talking, so shut up. If my wallet was as big as your mouth, I'd be the richest c*** in Hastings.' Only with more swearing involved..."
Steve Turner got an unnumbered but signed copy of Live At Leeds while visiting the Martyn home in Hastings. 'The Observers album of British Nutters | Godblessyer Steve | John Martyn'. Later on he passed it on to photographer Tim Dickeson.
This review was included in the Group Scene section. Material kindly provided by Alan Esdaile.