It was an evening like no other in Sydney on Thursday night. The coming together of our favourite adopted and adored son, the legendary Jeff Martin, with the iconic venue Frankie’s. How these two behemoths have never teamed together in the past is a mystery. It may have been a night of firsts, but it will not be the last. A reflection on life and love, loss and celebration, with one of the most talented singers and musicians this planet has ever produced. Sydney was spoiled with an intimate Martin show and Frankie’s was heaving well before the maestro hit the stage. We all knew it was going to be a night to remember, so even on a Thursday night, it was imperative to get there early and ‘get your spot’.
As Martin gets into position, it was like the old days, as he requests the first 2-3 rows sit and ingest. The crowd does more than just obey, we sit (yes me too, when do you even get to sit at a gig like this?) and it’s like no time has passed. Once again, it’s another Martin specialty. Looking like the rock star that he is, and sounding no different to decades past, he launches into ‘To The Forces’ and ‘Kashmir’. That rich and layered voice, it’s like coming home. Aaahh, such a relief to have another Martin tour for this year, after the last Tea Party concert earlier this year. We never know which tracks will make the cut and tonight is no different. Once he blitzes ‘The Bizarre’, we are told of an up and coming 2020 tour for the Tea Party, celebrating 30 years of musical brilliance. This is apart from some very possible new music in the near future. Everyone looks at each other with relish and let out a collective ‘yeaaaahhhh!!!’ thundering through the venue. Not only do we get another tour, but new music is on the cards!
A beautiful and always haunting version of ‘Requiem/Hurt’ is up next, a dedication to a very recent family member passed on. This mash up is always heart wrenching live; potent and raw, it’s very difficult to not be affected. Frankie’s has seen many cool bands and artists in the last few years, but now that Martin has made an appearance, it’s a part of the Martin and Tea Party folklore here in Australia. Hopefully some Frankie’s regulars have been initiated into this very exclusive club.
Some gorgeous ‘Stars in the Sand/The Messenger’ graces us tonight as fan favourite ‘Sister Awake’ regales us once more before we move into some old school ‘Winter Solstice’ and ‘In This Time’ from The Tea Party debut album ‘Splendor Solis’. It’s always a treat to hear some of the old school favourites in the set with the newer tracks. I loved ‘The Kingdom’ mixed with some ‘Purple Rain’ lyrics, just another distinctive aspect of Martin’s style, being able to weave in and out of songs with ease, and it always works. Not knowing which song will just pop out of another song keeps everything fresh, and us on our toes. Martin then steams through ‘Coming Home’ before our very special encore. Frankie’s erupts and begins to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Martin before he makes it back on stage. And I say very special as not only did we get to celebrate Martin’s very special birthday with him this year, we also get to see one of his prize instruments that doesn’t make it on stage very often – the glorious and always impressive, double neck acoustic. Now this is a way to celebrate!
What a vision and what a sound. Martin gifts us a birthday surprise as we get a breathtaking rendition of ‘Stairway To Heaven’, with a little ‘All Along the Watchtower’ added in. The phones all go up in unison, recording and lighting up. Goosebumps are everywhere, and that’s just on myself. I’ve seen dozens of Martin and Tea Party gigs, and I know that this doesn’t happen very often. Thanks Frankie’s for adding the maestro onto your live legends list, and thanks Jeff for treating us on your special day.
Our night hasn’t ended just yet. We wait for the applause to subside once again, as Martin calls up resident drumming supremo Jordan and harmonica slinging Ray for a ‘Black Snake Blues’ jam different to any jam we have seen in the past. Once again, an encore and gig to remember. A perfect ending to our evening of Martin magic. Until next time, Australia will be waiting to add the new instalment on their Tea Party chronicle.
© MARINA KNEZEVIC 2019. All rights reserved.
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