26th November 2014
Congratulations to the winner of the X factor 2014.. I don’t know your name and it’s highly doubtful that anyone else will this time next year. That’s just the attitude of most in the music industry nowadays. Churning musicians through on a daily basis to get their three minutes of fame, and if they’re lucky a week in the top ten.
So isn’t funny that in all that mess of vocal transparency, musician’s with true talent like Martyn Joseph, are still braving the mainstream unknown? To his hardcore fan-base this must seem blasphemous, talking as if Joseph isn’t making music worthy of a bigger audience, and they are completely right.
Martyn Joseph started out 30 years ago, writing a style of folk music some compare to Bruce (Springsteen) and John Mayer. Over his three decades he has performed thousands of times, and produced thirty-one albums. he’s achieved world wide status with awards such as; Best Male Artist at the 2004 BBC Welsh Music Awards, Best folk song category in the World Independent Music Awards and five top 50 UK hits. So why can your average Joe pop down to your local bar in Chester and see a live performance by his for as little as £15?
I believe I found the answer when I saw him perform right here at Telford’s Warehouse in Chester.
In the lowered section of the warehouse’s bar, Martyn appeared in front of only around 120 fans. Though as soon as he appeared I could tell the love in the room told me that the fans were those that would follow an artist anywhere.
The set up of a simple lighting rig, the mic on stand, a couple of guitars and the man himself, there would be nothing to deter your gaze from the performance.
“I was on the road here to Chester tonight listen to Simon Mayo on the radio who is a dear friend playing this song from the new Disney film which I just can’t stand..I text him as it was playing saying I’d pay for him to turn it off now..”
“Simon (Mayo) came back on the radio saying ‘Just had a text form my good friend Marytn Joseph who has said he will be doing a version of that last song on his next album aimed towards kids'”
The comic interaction sent the whole audience of radio two listeners into hysterics and rightly so after the first three songs he performed (I have come to sing/Highway/Seahorse) with such rich soul and a folk style that just echo’d the history of his lyrics. He followed with ‘Luxury of despair’, where he explained how he came up with the idea for it whilst surrounded by poverty, he stood with his friend Abbott where he said:
“After hearing that two days before my arrival these peoples houses had been knocked down for the fourth time…’I’m a peaceful man, but being here after six months if be think of doing something stupid’.” “Abbott looked at me and said ‘but we don’t have the luxury of despair’.”
This made me think, although I am one of few that are bringing the age range down a fair stretch. Why is this? The lyrical depth Joseph puts into his riffs should be applauded by the modern day market, but instead the market wants to hear about all material items and female voyeuristic treatment. However the deep and complexity behind each of those carefully chosen words, retelling stories of Martyn’s life and lessons he has learned ‘on the road’. Should be applauding by any age range, instead of preaching the no name artists of today talking about physical assets and surface scratching emotive language. Joseph makes what the country industry believe is real music, but I guess “we don’t have have the luxury of despair” either.
His interplay with the audience shows wisdom and life experience. The second half picked straight back up from the first without a dip in professionalism, the stage seemed like home to him as the audience were bouncing to liberal black slider, but then tranquil listening to the atmospheric ‘There’s always maybe’, as the lyrics and minor chord changes encapsulated their hearts, newer essences in his work relate to newer artists such as Tom Baxter’s work, combined with his appreciation for Bruce within his own style.
Joseph didn’t just play the old and great of his arsenal, he performed new songs that the audience lapped up his genius with pleasure – the first was ‘Bobby’, the second had no name according to Martyn, “Are you ready!” An upbeat and certainly popular song with an addictive riff.
“if it’s something I feel passionate about…It’s always the ideas that comes through in translation…then the melody” “this one was the other way round” – Bobby (inspired by a HBO documentary on Bobby Kennedy and his family).
A sense of control and professionalism oozes from Martyn, but as lead the audiences involvement with love. You can see his humble attitude reveal the artistic he displays with such raw devotion using his fantastic control of the guitar (Santa cruz California) in D.
“I’ve been coming here (Telford’s) since the ninety’s and it’s such a beautiful place. I just want to say thank you.” “And to you guys, you’ve stuck with me for a long time. To you guys that have seen me for the first time, I am grateful for you taking the chance.”
Finishing with; Still a lot of love round here, Sunday’s coming, Kiss the world beautiful. The fact that he still produces high quality music and can go unnoticed in a public place, is wizardry on his behalf, and what he seems to want. He is a complex man, and thankful for anything he is given, this is the reason he has kept himself down to earth and a big reason why his success is limited. Because he would rather stay true to his music and he audience, than have unfulfilling fame. Showing he is the true meaning of a singer songwriter artist. A piece of pure and rare working perfection.