THE Brook's greatest strength is also its biggest weakness. Yes, it's incredibly intimate, and everyone is close enough to the stage to see the whites (or sometimes the reds) of the performers' eyes.
Yes, the staff are friendly, and it's nice to be able to buy a drink during the gig. But a packed pub (Martyn sold out weeks ago) generates noise. And, irritatingly, there was a constant background of noisy chatter throughout. Why do people pay good money for tickets, then shout over the music at their friends? Beats me.
Martyn, however, seemed unfazed. Looking increasingly like a heavily-bearded baby in a Stan Laurel suit, he was chatty and chirpy throughout. Only problem was his Glaswegian patois became more impenetrable as the evening went on.
With bass/ drums/ keyboard in support, this was a mostly a funky night of classics from the back catalogue, with a brief acoustic interlude when, thankfully, a hush fell on the crowd.
At times both band and audience seemed to drift, but during John Wayne they were as one. This was a classic Martyn moment, worth the admission alone, a soaring, searing, hypnotic, paint-stripping, hackle-raising epic... Live music doesn't come any better than this.
This review was published in the Dorset Echo of 19 February 2001. It was probably written by Kevin Nash.