Gig review: MARTIN BARRE BAND, ARC, Stockton-on-Tees, 2 November 2017

Martin Barre - Great British Rock & Blues Festival 2015

Despite a 4am collective jet-lagged wake-up call – no doubt nudged on by their just-closed nine week US tour – the Martin Barre Band opened the first date of a short UK tour with a swift instrumental, followed by crowd pleasing and firm one-two punch of ‘Minstrel In The Gallery’ and ‘Steel Monkey’. The latter featuring a remarkable bass line from Alan Thomson, in place of the sequencer track on the ‘Crest Of The Knave’ album original.

Back in 2014 when I first saw the band at the very first Giants of Rock, it was clear that Martin Barre’s idea to pick at the weave of his rich heritage of Tull songs to bring a fresh approach was going to be a winner.

Tonight, highlights amongst these included a rocked up ‘Song For Jeffrey’, ‘Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of A New Day’, ‘Sweet Dream’ and a rarely-heard ‘Sea Lion’ from 1974′s ‘Warchild’.

Since that Giant’s performance the band has recorded two albums – another is in progress Martin told us – and we learned, from the current album, ‘A Moment Of Madness’ was a song “inspired by the danger of too much late night Gorgonzola”.

The title track of ‘Back To Steel’ also featured, along with ‘Bad Man’ for which singer-guitarist Dan swapped over to Alan’s bass, whilst the bassist strapped on guitar for some tasty slide. ‘Hunting Girl’ from ‘Songs From The Wood’ closed the first half.

In the past, a couple of covers have always found a home in the Martin Barre Band set – something from Gov’t Mule and the classic ‘Watch Your Step’ for instance – but none of us were prepared tonight for a duo from the Fab Four who Martin told us delightedly he and a mate had seen – “but couldn’t hear for the screams – including mine” – back in 1964 in Blackpool.

And so, we were treated to frankly remarkable re-imaginings of both ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’. Not only that, if your heart sinks at the mention of yet another crack at ‘Crossroads’ – be prepared to be stunned at the simple, but vicious performance from this band.

The camaraderie amongst the core of Alan, Dan Crisp and Martin is infectious and a joy to experience. The band is tight and now with newcomer Arun Graham on drums, they really have hit gold.  The lad played a blinder.

Review by Ian Wood


3 November – Flowerpot, Derby
4 November – Trading Boundaries, Fletching
5 November – Robin 2, Bilston
6 November – Guildhall, Preston


The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk was streamed on Sunday 20 December., imbued with a festive flavour to raise the spirits

More about Josh:

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 20 December 2020 and announces the results of the Popular Poll for Best of 2020.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 20 December 2020 and includes Pete’s best of the year selections

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.

Featured Albums w/c 11 January 2021 (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 UNRULY CHILD Our Glass House (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 SERGEANT STEEL Truck Tales (Boyz Tyme Records)
14:00-16:00 DAN REED Liftoff (Zero Entertainment)

Power Plays w/c 11 January 2021 (Mon-Fri)

BLACK SPIDERS – Good Times (Dark Riders Records/Cargo Records)
GRAVITY MACHINE Standing Stones (Zyse Records)
EMPIIRES Love Or Hate (TLG Entertainment/INgrooves)
RAY FENWICK Tam Tam (Singsong Music)
DEAD REYNOLDS Voices (The Fort)
LAYLA ZOE Don’t Wanna Help Anyone (indie)

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