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Dom Martin

Wednesday 10th April 2024

Chapel Arts, Bath

As a seasoned follower of Dom Martin, one comes to expect a certain level of excellence, and to date, I’m yet to be left feeling sold short. It is also fair to say that even the most hardened music fan could accept a plateauing of this young man’s abilities, after all a bar can only be raised so many times? But this week, on the banks of the Avon, he not only delivered once more, but stretched even further to lift said bar to an even loftier notch.

From the opening number, 'The Fall', the first offering from the latest release 'Buried in the Hail', we all sat comfortably in the palm of this young Northern Irishman’s hand. On completion of a flawless performance he said he was “glad to get that one out of the way” so he could relax. Well we were streets ahead of him, succumbed by the beauty of the atmosphere settling in the room.

After a DM version of John Martyn’s 'Easy Blues' (or Jelly Morton’s 'Jelly Roll Baker' - take your pick), we were treated to a mix of new songs in the form of 'Played' and 'Haunted'. A mixture of styles in play here, with a scent of Blues/Prog fusion in the air. I for one am very excited to see which way this young man’s compositions are leading, and these definitely whet this contributors appetite.

'Easy Way Out/Belfast Blues' segued perfectly to bring the truly solo set to an end, with bass player and established band mate Ben Graham then taking to the stage for sterling versions of 'Hell for you' and 'Mercy'. Subtle, yet impressive playing by Graham complemented these two back catalogue beauties from the ‘Spain to Italy’ album.

Things were kept flowing with the moody 'Here Comes the River' from his second studio album 'A Savage Life', where, not for the first time, I identified a new maturity in the Irish brogue. The haunting melody of 'Dog Eat Dog' was for me, what live acoustic music should be all about. A moment of magic, suspended in hallowed air, acting as reciprocity between artist and audience.

So were we done? Not quite. Dom and Ben were then joined by not only the uber-talented Demi Mariner who has ably supported Dom on this tour, but by Elles Bailey who as anyone who knows, knows, has been a major supporter of Project Martin from the outset. A fun packed version of 'Daylight I will Find' from his latest superb album 'Buried In The Hail', with some mightily impressive harmonies, closed this show of shows, leaving yet another audience emotionally drained in its wake.

I left the venue thinking that much has changed in the world of this Belfast lad. His journey from the streets (and acquaintance’s attics) to sobriety and freedom from intoxicants has never been a secret, but the new confidence (built on confidence) and belief in his own ability has released a new force of sustained creativity. In the last five years I have seen this boy from the North, grow into an impressive man. Onwards and upwards Mr. Martin.

Alan Bates

Photos by Paul Appleby

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