I haven’t seen Jeff Martin play since the days of The Tea Party, which disbanded most acrimoniously in 2005. I have no idea why I stayed away so long. Perhaps it was because The Tea Party were so brilliant that I was afraid Jeff couldn’t ‘do the do’ without the other two members? Whatever the answer might be, I’m sure glad I headed to The Corner to see Martin and Terepai Richmond work their magic.
Terepai, (diG/The Whitlams) is a drummer of substance. There probably aren’t many people who could successfully jam with Jeff Martin because Martin’s music is pure adventure. There is nothing predictable or mainstream about it, and while each show is finely crafted, the spontaneity and exploration of possibilities would make playing along and enriching the sounds quite a challenge for a lesser musician.
For those who never knew The Tea Party, it was the unique combination of instruments in the compositions that first attracted me to them. Add my favourite music genres of blues, rock, hard rock, indie and gothic together in one wholesome mash and it’s understandable that I was ‘gone’ on my first listen and can still find things in the music to fascinate me today. Even if you dismiss all that, there’s no getting past the fact that Jeff Martin is a superb guitar player and vocalist.
He changes guitars in performances more often than Melbourne’s weather changes, and makes those 12 strings talk to us. Jeff is the Indiana Jones of writing, seemingly. We’re taken from a dusty and exotic middle-eastern bazaar, (The Bazaar) to the very personal and heartfelt I Love You. He explained that when touring takes him away from his wife and he calls her from far away when there’s a party going on in the background, he’d better write a ‘fucken good love song’. Well, with I Love You I think he achieved something special, and any woman who didn’t find that tribute moving would be very hard-hearted.
The Tea Party fans in attendance were also treated to versions of Temptation and Sister Awake, and the rendition of Requiem was exceptionally emotive. It wasn’t all serious though, and after tugging at the old heart-strings for a while Jeff and Terepai launched into some danceable hometown blues. The punters lapped it up and encouraged more, raising their hands in the air and doing Jeff’s bidding.
Probably the only negative was that the set was too short, and although there was an encore, the night seemed to have flown by in a blink and I was left wanting more music. It’s good, then, that Jeff Martin will be touring to promote a new album that will be released early next year called The Ground Cries Out.
Indeed, after Saturday night’s performance my interest in Jeff Martin’s music has been refreshed, and I am certain that next time it’ll be harder to find tickets. If your ears have had enough of mediocre mainstream sounds, treat your senses to the many musical flavours and moods of Jeff Martin and Co.