It was truly a coming together of the senses and emotions at the Factory Theatre last night as Sydney was treated to the first ever full live performance of Jeff Martin’s new album, ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’. To have this occur while on the cusp of Spring just added to the magic of finally getting to listen to this eagerly awaited concept album in a live capacity. I went into this gig knowing every other song very well but not having heard a single note of the new album. This actually enhanced the experience and worked to my benefit as this is one brilliant concept album, and I love a good concept album. My ears and eyes were there for the taking and ‘The Maestro’ has done it again. I have no doubt that some of these new album tracks will definitely make their way into the already deep and bounteous well that supplies Martin’s live repertoire.
Before our ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ second set, we were treated to a first set of Martin classics with some sprinkling of The Tea Party. From the hypnotic and slinky The Cobra, to the poignant A Line In the Sand, we were then taken to the steamy shores of Havana and back to The Messenger. The enthralled audience is warming up right alongside Martin and his drummer, Shane ‘Russ’ Russell, from well-known Aussie band Twelve Foot Ninja. Martin thunders with his booming voice, and regales us with stories, while they strum and drum. Martin and Russ are in such great sync, you wouldn’t know that they have barely had time to rehearse together. This is also another aspect of the night that’s interesting to watch as they seem like old musical buddies. Anyone who has paid attention over the last 30 years knows that Martin continuously brings it vocally and musically, and tonight is no different.
The glorious emerald isle inspired The Kingdom makes the list and then Russ gets to fulfill a drumming dream and hammer out on The Tea Party classic, The Bazaar, to round out our first set. The sound is still so layered, heavy but crisp, and this two-person dynamic is working so well that I can hardly wait for the second set to begin. Martin sounds as brilliant, and looks as tantalisingly rock’n’roll, as he always does, which is why this will be no ordinary Thursday night.
The venue is a buzz after some ferocious applause. As the faithful flock to pillage (and sell out) the merch stand with exciting new purchases, I sit and absorb the atmosphere of what is about to unfold. It’s quite an experience hearing new music live for the first time that is pure to your ears and even more fulfilling when it’s from such an accomplished artist like Martin. You can feel it in the air that something very special is about to come to life, like the pages of an old and just discovered ancient text being turned for the first time. This is how the second set unfolded to my senses, amidst this adoring crowd packed into the Factory Theatre.
Our first sinful chapter of Gluttony, with the powerful Down On Your Knees, begins with those familial chords and middle eastern musical sirens, drawing us into a world of hedonistic delights. I already love this story that we are being led into, this weighty musical interpretation of how humans can always go too far, no matter the circumstances. This is a brilliant beginning for this tale, and the fans are in awe of the always seductive and enticing Martin that you can barely hear a breath in the audience.
The darker So Bitter, under Wrath, takes you down to the depths of loss and heartbreak. All I can think is that we have all been there. Wanting to basically just take yourself out of the game, as you see no current light at the end of that tunnel, where love seems to evaporate without warning. Then, just when you have been taken down as far as you can go, you are brought up a little with the feeling of Envy in the heartfelt Send Her My Love. I can see this track becoming another favourite. It may be about Envy but without some of the negativity that some people can bring to the feeling, that at least in this song, the feeling shows some signs of hope.
When it comes to our next sin, Pride, in Blinded By, our sinful journey is once again another road well-travelled by most, and Martin himself brings up his own story relating to this particular song, where he reflects on the mistakes of his youth. But he continues to explain that for most of this album he is ‘getting into character’ and not every song is connected to his own path in life. The crowd is entranced, just lapping up each and every new offering that is being gifted to us on this special night. It’s so hard to narrow down any songs that overshadow the next as they are individual yet, at the same time, coming together as one, which is why concept albums are so unique and have their own place in the library of music.
We move through to Greed with Sorted and Sold which starts with the promise of something totally different, as the alluring Martin guitar then meshes with this barrelling, pulsating drum beat, making you feel this sense of urgency. The raw energy within these new songs is intoxicating, like watching scenes unfold as we keep turning the pages, immersed in each chapter. Martin quipped before song that this particular track did relate to his past pursuit of fame and success but I can see all sorts of scenarios evolving when listening to each song on this particular album as it evokes multi layers of emotions and actions.
The next offering of You Move So Slow, linking to Sloth, glides along as you can feel the words in the sense of I will get there eventually. Conjuring up images of deliberate and sluggish, creeping and crawling behaviour, we are brought to a level of ‘idleness’ and I can hear how this song first started out as an instrumental. The crowd erupts with deafening cheers and applause as Martin and Russ exit the stage and then make their way back out to belt out this next song in our finale with Lust, Sehvet Nora, which is actually the first song on the album but I think deserves its rightful place at the end of this set. You just know that this one is going to be another goodie and it sensually unravels from the first few bars, setting the scene of the hunt for physical pleasure and gratification. Such an apt encore on this odyssey we have been taken on tonight, twisting through the Seven Deadly Sins with abandon, along with the always wonderful and brilliant Martin. Yet another round of overly loud cheers and claps for Martin and Russ brings us to the end of Sydney’s only gig on this current tour.
This has been such an exhilarating way to listen to Martin’s new album for the first time that I have had to listen to it multiple times since then to engross myself in even further.
The only question I have from this night is which Sin will be your favourite? When it comes to this version of The Seven Deadly Sins, you won’t be able to choose just one.
lust Şehvet Nora
gluttony Down On Your Knees
wrath So Bitter
greed Sorted and Sold
envy Send Her My Love
pride Blinded By
sloth You Move So Slow
All songs written by Jeff Martin, with exception of “So Bitter” – written by Paul Drennan and Brendan Walton with instrumentation and production by Jeff Martin.
For more info: http://www.jeffmartinofficial.com/
© MARINA KNEZEVIC 2023. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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