Martin Barre – Preston, Guildhall – 6 November 2017 Print
Written by DJ Astrocreep   
Monday, 20 November 2017 04:40

When the opportunity to review the performance of someone like Martin Barre comes up, it's not one you easily pass up. Almost 50 years of Jethro Tull, countless collaborations and guest performances mean he has a very impressive back catalogue to draw from, with a bit of something for almost everyone. This in mind, I venture forth to Preston Guild Hall Live! to take in the evening's entertainment.


Martin Barre Preston


A solitary support plays, in the form of Sean Keefe, a talented singer/songwriter in his own right. Sean uses a couple of loop pedals, à la Ed Sheeran, to create and play through his own loops, which he does in an effective and enjoyable manner. You can see from Sean's antics that he both believes and enjoys his own music, which helps in settinmg the stage for Martin afterwards, and whilst an attempt at a crowd sing-a-long doesn't work very well, he receives a lot of applause and appreciation throughout his set from the sell out crowd. A good lead up to our headline act...


Martin takes to the stage, accompanied by his band. Dan Crisp is with him again on vocals, who throughout the performance is very reminiscent of a younger Ian Anderson, minus the flute playing, in terms of his vocal sound, and facial expressions and body language - something that works as well on Martin's solo efforts as it does on the few Jethro Tull songs that are spread through the set. Martin has plenty of stories, which he briefly relates to the crowd between songs, setting the scene for what is coming next, introducing two Beatles covers in the shape of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘I Want You’, both of which are performed with some aplomb.


At various times, during solos and instrumentals, Martin's keen sense of humour shines through, where he even does a bit of dancing whilst playing. This further enhances the sense of camaraderie that the band frequently exhibit with each other and a good sign that there is a good rapport between the members. There is time for a couple more tracks in ‘Sealion’ by Jethro Tull, prefaced by a story from Martin where he remembers being jealous of people who had enough rhythm to be able to dance when he was younger, so decided to help invent prog in revenge! After another track, he takes a well-earned 20-minute break to rest up (well, he is in his 70s) before continuing into part two of the set.


Martin Barre 1


What a way to start the second set it is, too, as a reimagined version of ‘Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of The New Day’ is the first song in it. Immediately following is a cover of Robert Johnson's ‘Cross Roads Blues’, where Martin shows his musicianship as he switches over to the mandolin, continuing on this into the next track, before switching back to his guitar.


More stories abound, and an enthralled audience lap it up, laughing appreciatively as Martin talks about ”my bestselling book on how to get high eating cheese”, remarking that he wrote the next track having eaten a lot of gorgonzola - any other meanings taken are at the reader's own discretion - where upon he launches into ‘Moment of Madness’ from one of his solo albums, and showing quite how his guitar playing has come on in leaps and bounds from even the high level he already had at the time of ‘Aqualung’ - showing incredible shredding and playing ability which belies the fact that he is now 70 years of age!


There are a few more tracks, before Martin announces the end of the set. He goes off, the crowd shout for more, and he fakes running back on stage to get into the encore he has prepared, culminating, fairly obviously, on ‘Aqualung’. This, again, is reimagined somewhat, and seems to have taken on even more life in itself from the original version. The solo ranked as the 20th best ever in the UK is performed admirably, and made even more intricate, leaving the crowd in places open mouthed in appreciation. At the end of this, a standing ovation is barely adequate for the performance we have all enjoyed so much and the best way anyone could respond to such a well-played show.


Read our recent interview with Martin Barre HERE.


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