Colchester, Essex University, 19 Feb 1972

27 Jul 2013
Loose Handlebars blog
[Mal Wright]
Life is a lesson to learn in our time | John Martyn


The first time I saw John Martyn play live was on the 19th of February 1972.1 Blimey, I was just a baby! John's wonderful LP Bless The Weather had been released in the previous November. Just a week after the gig Nick Drake's 3rd & final record Pink Moon became available while Richard Thompson was in the same Sound Techniques studio used by the others recording Henry The Human Fly. Island Records' engineer/ producer John Wood & scene-maker Joe Boyd were having it their way with this clear as country water modern British folk music.

It was a great concert, the audience sat cross-legged on the floor & don't bogart that joint. I believe that, just this once, the word 'vibe' is appropriate. There's a touch of bliss about 'Bless', a lovely, languid beauty. John's smoky rasp & confident picking style made good songs into better ones.

It was, apparently, his habit to accept a spliff from the audience during his set. He smoked the whole thing & we were half impressed, half concerned. We knew that there was some quality gear around the college. So when he broke a string he could not really summon the necessary co-ordination to get things done. Not everyone in the audience was as stoned or were sympathetic. A little impatient heckling escalated into an exchange of obscenities &, y'know, it was all a bit of a downer man.

Glistening Glyndebourne is the first track that Martyn used the Echoplex tape delay effect. It's a shimmering indication of his future work but on this night it lacked sparkle. A perfunctory Singing In The Rain & he was gone, a pity because for 45 minutes there he had been as good as we had hoped he would be.

1 This places the concert in Colchester, Essex University. My guess is the writer found the date on this website.
This review from memory was part of a longer piece to be found here.