Dom Martin // Live Review// The Chapel Arts Centre // Bath
It’s a Saturday night in Bath and a small queue has formed outside of one of the city’s most intimate venues, the Chapel Arts Centre. As we’re ushered in, the tastefully decorated and lit tables and chairs with a bar at the back give a unique and classic vibe, and we’re greeted by very friendly staff and the event promoter. We make our way to a table at the front, the lights go down and Dom Martin just wanders down through the crowd, muttering greetings and climbing onto the stage. It’s clear from the start that this is going to be a very special evening as he tunes up and chats away, thanking everyone for turning up and joking about the state of his hair.
He mentions his admiration for Rory Gallagher and launches into a cover of ‘Could’ve had Religion’ playing slide on a resonator guitar. Despite a warning from the promoter that he had been unwell, his voice is strong, and his playing is exemplary. He just let the slide drop onto the stage and the audience erupted with applause.
Dom once again chats away to the audience as he pulls an acoustic guitar off the rack and tunes up, where it becomes a heartfelt monologue about his early life and his triumph over his struggles with drugs and alcohol. He thanks his promoters Audrey and Fenton Parsons, “I owe them my life”, before playing ‘Easy Way Out’. His signature technique of pushing the guitar neck with his left hand, fretting while holding onto the body with his right to get a tone bend, is being used to great effect in this song. His playing is just beautiful – extraordinarily skilful and the sound in this venue is superb. We are treated to a soulful rendition of ‘Mercy’ from his 2019 ‘Spain to Italy’ album before a short interval.
Lights down and Dom returns to the stage and the treats continue. A particular highlight is the story of his love for his late father in teaching him to play the guitar. His pre-song dialogues with the audience are so heartfelt, they just feel like an essential part of the show. He plays his cover of Stanley Myers’‘Cavatina’framing another Rory Gallagher classic, ‘Out on the Western Plain’.
He then pulls out his custom Telecaster and tells us about its history, his instructions to the builder, “If Rory’s Strat was a Telecaster, that’s what I want”, and plays ‘Should’ve learned my Lesson’effortlessly switching from pick to fingerstyle and back again. The set ends with a return to acoustic guitar and the John Martyn song ‘You can Discover’.
Dom takes a bow and the audience demands an encore. After a jokey apology for the sexist lyrics, he introduces Big Bill Broonzy’s ‘Banker’s Blues’, and the show comes to an end. We are left with a sense of wonder after seeing an extraordinary exhibition of genius-level musicianship. Dom Martin cannot be judged by just listening to his album tracks; his live show is on another level. It feels like a privilege and an honour just to witness it. An unmissable show.
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