THE sound of running water in a pitch black hall. The lights go up and John Martyn in a grubby raincoat with his back to the audience, looks round in surprise, pretending he has been caught in the middle of answering nature's call.
Next a tape of 'Singing In The Rain', from the movie soundtrack. The timing was out but it was joker Martyn's characteristic way of introducing his set at the Citadel, Leith, on Sunday. He seemed to be in the mood for jolting the rapt audience with his comments between numbers. After the opening 'May You Never' came "Can I have a little volume on the vocals? Anyway it's f------ lovely to see you again."
Still an intensely attentive reaction from the half-capacity house and after three songs, switching some cockney to broad Scots with the chat, he said "Yer awfly quiet! Say something, if it's only assholes!"
But there was nothing so insensitive about the music. The rapport between Martyn's guitar and Danny Thompson's bass was quite stunning and in 'Outside In' from the Inside Out album their technical togetherness with Martyn's nifty peddling producing a compelling chunkiness was outstanding.
Nothing surpassed 'Spencer The Rover', a traditional English song from the new Sunday's Child album, for mellow purity, Martyn reverting to acoustic guitar and Thompson providing the depth with beautifully bowed bass.
Virtually half the set had gone before the third member of the unit, drummer John Stevens, appeared on stage. The impact was immediate in 'One Day' 1, another excerpt from the latest album and 'Solid Air'.
A bit of everything in fact from Martyn and the musicianship was maintained at the same high level throughout a thoroughly satisfying set.
1 sitenote: One Day Without You.