In Australia we have kangaroos and koalas, the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru, and we also have the incomparable Jeff Martin. Another Aussie icon, adopted but, nevertheless, he has become a part of our musical passage and story. (Sorry Canada…we can share!) How lucky and spoiled are we when such a talented artist decides to reside on our shores, and tour every year. This is every Tea Party, and true musical devotee’s, fantasy. These tours are always anticipated with much passion and deep emotion from all of his disciples across our country. When he tours, we will come…
It was another brilliant show from the Maestro at the Brass Monkey on Friday night. The venue itself, like a welcoming ‘Twin Peaks-esque’ red room, with crimson coloured velvet curtains tied at each stage end. With that familiar, joyful vibe and intimate setting, encased in a cool night venue dimness, the Monkey was already heartily crowded before a great support set from Mitch King took the stage. Some blues guitar and harmonica was the perfect warm-up on a chilly winter night in Cronulla, as was my nice little glass of port, an ideal accompaniment to our tasty supper. (And thank you to the lovely waitress who took over 15 minutes trying to source me a glass, much appreciated!) Such is the warm and embracing nature of the Brass Monkey.
I don’t think I have ever seen a Jeff Martin or Tea Party gig that hasn’t been exceptional. Even listening to Martin, unwell, many years ago at the same venue, you could barely hear a difference. ‘Faultless’ is the word I would use and Friday night was no exception. It was a blistering and vigorous set, working in unison with the wonderful Brass Monkey acoustics, Martin’s voice is in sensational form. Looking like the rock star he is, and performing at the same caliber as the last 25 years, it is a constant, accomplished and intense display of vocalist and instrumentalist.
Our setlist was a mix of old and new, with some always satisfying jam mash ups; ‘Sister Awake’ and ‘To The Forces’, a couple of the earlier songs that set the tone, the latter which is on Martin’s new EP ‘Stars in the Sand’. It’s an EP which includes recordings of songs utilising sounds from Martin’s 6 week Moroccan sojourn in 2015. As Martin mentions during the gig, this EP is ‘an 800 hour’ labour of love project, so I was champing at the bit to get my hands on a copy. I must say, it’s another fabulous addition to my collection. ‘Silence’ continues this crowd entrancement and then a heart wrenching version of ‘Requiem/Hurt’ shakes us to the core. Like a secret midnight mass gathering, everyone is once again utterly absorbed, floored and overcome with an ecstatic melancholy. Mesmerising and powerful is an understatement.
More tracks like ‘Stars in the Sand/Messenger’ and then some ‘Winter Solstice’ are on tonight’s set list. A stirring version of ‘With or Without You/Save Me’ followed by another Tea Party fave ‘Shadows on the Mountainside’. I love not knowing which song comes next, and with such a rich catalogue, it’s always a treat to hear those first few bars and smile, and look around at the gloriously elated congregation. So to finish our first helping with ‘Coming Home/LA Woman’ was a sweet delight. No one was moving, this wasn’t enough as the rowdy crowd summoned Martin back to the stage for more.
The Monkey erupts as our encore begins with the ever enticing ‘Halcyon Days’. Sublime on top of sublime, gem after gem. Transported to another land and time we are here to take within us every ounce of Martin’s middle eastern magic. Eternally intoxicating, more favourites as ‘Zahira/Favourite Son’ and ‘Sister Awake/Inertia Creeps‘ round out another session of worship. Aahh… yet another otherworldly night of unprecedented musical pleasure. Martin then graciously brings on Mitch King with his cool harmonica for a chilled out jam of ‘Bring It On Home’ and ‘Black Snake Blues/Back Door Man’. I love the Martin improv of ‘Baby Did A Bad, Bad Thing’ intertwining between the lyrics, leaving us in a higher sensual state right up until the last note.
Our blessed evening ends, for now, to rapturous applause, but we will wait for the next seminary calendar to be released in any form, whether it’s Martin only, or for more of our beloved Tea Party. With still a few more dates on this current tour, be sure to make your way out for some unforgettable musical brilliance, and initiate the uninitiated. What a high after another top quality performance, I think I may try to squeeze another gig in before we are starved for another 6 months. Lucky Australia indeed!
© MARINA KNEZEVIC 2018. All Rights Reserved.
Love JEFF MARTIN? Share this post with your friends!