How often is an entire show, main and supporting acts, totally fulfilling? When it happens, the effect is incredible... but that's the bill this week at the Troubadour. Both the Incredible String Band and the second act, singer-guitarist John Martyn are astounding.
The String Band's music doesn't appeal to everyone and as evidenced opening night, its audience is limited. But those who are turned on to this group are really turned on. I was sitting across from two gentlemen who even flew out from Phoenix for the occasion.
Nothing about the band -lyrics, style, musicianship- is simple, yet they give the impression of being unadorned and uncomplicated, almost like an organic riddle.
The four core musicians interchange on many instruments including guitar, bass, drums, organ, piano, flute, fiddle, clarinet, and mandolin. But they're more like an extended family. Whenever their eight hands weren't enough, other musicians entered and exited as needed.
Much of the music played Tuesday night was rooted in their native Irish, Scottish, and English cultures. The first tune, The Circle Is Unbroken, was based on an old Irish melody with the new lyrics written by Williamson,1 one of the leaders and originators of the group.
He also played some heated fiddle reels he had written in traditional style which brought ovations from the enthusiastic Troubadour irregulars.
All the musicians-were brilliant, including initial performer John Martyn. The Troubadour should be congratulated for two extremely complimentary acts.
1 Song from The Big Huge, based on an Irish tune Anach Cuan.
This Californian review proves it was not very busy and John was present - and appreciated. It was published in the Van Nuys News of Friday 6 April 1973.