Jeff Martin @ Le Magog, Sherbrooke – December 6th 2018

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Jeff Martin has been one of the most prolific songwriters in Canadian rock since The Tea Party hit the scene in the early 90s. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Mr Martin perform in many formats, with his original band, with the Armada, the 777 and on his own. Whatever band he’s playing in, he makes a living playing heavy riffs and loud guitars.

The uniqueness of these solo acoustic shows is that it takes the focus away from his guitar and places it on the power of his other instrument, his voice. It’s a deep and powerful voice that in an intimate setting resonate throughout the entire room.

The format also shows of Martin’s more playful side. There’s a jukebox that lives inside the man’s head. Being out there alone allows him to improvise and dig deep into it. Apart from the vast library of his own work, he dips in and out of his many influences. Varied styles, from the classic rock of Led Zeppelin, to the industrial sounds of Nine Inch Nails and some slow melodic Tragically Hip. He even incorporates electronica by incorporating Massive Attack’s “Inertia Creeps” into the Tea Party classic “Sister Awake.” He started “Sister Awake early in his set, but only got halfway through before he moved along, only to come back and finish it off 6 songs later.

However you see him, Martin loves to speak to his audience and tell stories. But in the dank dimly lit basement which is Le Magog, he feels even closer and more chatty. He even took a tender moment to introduce the crowd to his wife Melissa who was in attendance.

A highlight of the set was the new songs off of his new solo EP. They’re songs that dig deep into his early influences of Morocc’n Roll. He opened with the powerful “To the Forces.”

A highlight of his acoustic shows is always his blues medley, which on this night was saved for the encore. A 10-minute journey that began with a few lines from Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” Then it was on to Sonny Boy Willaimson’s “Bring It On Home.” Then Martin dipped into his own blues repertoire with the deep south dirty “Black Snake Blues” and at the request of an audience member “Suns Going Down.” He went by way of “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing” to “Whole Lotta Love” where Collin Moore jumped onstage with a harmonica to help out in a moment that seemed to surprise everyone. He ended all by getting the crowd to answer to some bluesy moans and then threw in some laughs by throwing in some Freddie Mercury calls to top it off.

A great night of music in Sherbrooke, a town that doesn’t get to see that many big acts. It was obvious the crowd appreciated the visit and a great night of music.

Review – Richard Brunette

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