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Live Review: JEFF MARTIN

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Words by Andy Parkinson


“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try try again”.


This famous saying originated over two centuries ago, but its relevance today is still as poignant as ever, considering the impact this clusterfuck of a year has had on touring musicians. With tours postponed again and again on account of Covid, Jeff Martin playing the songs of Led Zeppelin wasn’t immune to such delays and added to the long list of shows pushed back to a later date. In the end, persistence paid off and the small township of Eumundi was able to welcome back Jeff Martin once again.


Considering the success The Tea Party reached, it’s always a unique and intimate evening to be able to enjoy a solo show with such a powerful presence in Jeff Martin at a scaled-down venue. Given we are still under restrictions of no dancing allowed, it only amplifies the attention he gains as punters are forced to sit down and behold his powerful voice in what almost feels more like a theatre show at times given the formal and respectful environment a sitting crowd creates.


Jeff used this to his advantage as he opened with the unexpected “Gallous Pole”, his virtuosic guitar chops and powerful voice more than enough to fill any venue and instantly command the rooms attention. Opening with a lesser-known Zeppelin song to the masses is a very Jeff Martin move to make and sets the tone for the evening, that if you only know the big hits from the band, you may well be scratching your head at trying to pick many of the songs. As if to reassure those who are more casual Zeppelin fans, he kicked into the ever-popular “Ramble On” as his second song in what was a stunning performance.


Chatting between each song, providing some lesser known insights into the band and songs he was performing, we received little tidbits of information as he put his own spin on “Black Mountainside” and “Thank You” before playing “Going To California” a song he shared with the crowd that he considers “one of the finest acoustic songs ever recorded”.


Reaching the final song of the first of his two sets, he invited good friend Jim Bradshaw up on to the stage to lend his Harmonica talents as they led into an absolute killer performance of “When the Levee Breaks”. Apart from the early performance of “Ramble On”, the set had been a fairly subdued intimate performance showcasing his guitar and vocal talents, where as with the addition of Bradshaw on stage and a backing rhythm track to jam along too, the energy levels lifted substantially and was a solid way to finish the first set and tease of what was further to come.


Returning to the stage and opening the second set with The Tea Party’s version of “Out On The Tiles”, he provided some insight into the inspiration behind the cover as they had been compared to Led Zeppelin throughout their career, so they mashed the song into a 4/4 beat and set out to make it unique in its own right. Following this we were treated to ‘Tangerine’ and “That’s The Way” before Jim Bradshaw was once again invited up onto the stage to perform “Whole Lotta Love”. The camaraderie was evident between the pair as they absolutely crushed this song.


While Jeff is perfectly capable of carrying a set on his own back, the energy that was once again created with Jim on stage was undeniable. It’s almost like having a partner in crime join him on stage elevated his own energy levels which in turn then filtered throughout the crowd. This was no more evident than looking around the room and seeing the security guard, which all thanks to everyone adhering to the covid sit down rules was able to relax and clap along to the tune with a massive shit eating grin evident on his face throughout.


Leaving the stage thanking the crowd as if this was his last song of the night, the inevitable encore chant commenced and was helped along by his guitar tech revving up the crowd (Side note; In this reviewers opinion Jeff’s guitar tech won MVP of the evening as he was kept busy throughout the night supplying Jeff with what can only be described as an arsenal of different axes for each song).


Returning to the stage to a deep brooding bassline playing over the PA, Jeff wound out the hauntingly beautiful and always welcome Hurdy-Gurdy before transitioning into a stellar performance of “Kashmir”. It was enough to coerce the local police into the venue for a quick suss, likely under the guise of ensuring order was still in play given security was at this point clearly distracted by Jeffs commanding performance. If ever there was a song perfectly suited to Jeff’s guitar style and vocal range this is it.


Of course, the evening wouldn’t be complete without one of the most famous rock songs ever written in “Stairway To Heaven” being played. Leading into the performance by mentioning the hilarious Wayne’s World quote of “No Stairway” ever being allowed to be played, he provided the ultimate mic drop moment by telling the crowd “Well I’ve tucked Jimmy Page into bed twice before, so I can do whatever the fuck I want”. And with this, Stairway was played to a standing ovation as Jeff left the stage. It’s the kind of closer every live performance should have in that even if a punter was somehow bored throughout the set, they would walk out impressed as a result, such is the power of this song nearly fifty years on.


Photo credit: Labyrinth Photography and Art MBL

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