Dom Martin: Savages, Live at the Harlington

Dom Martin: Savages, Live at the Harlington, Savage Music

We’re accustomed to thinking of Dom Martin as an acoustic blues player – he was the winner of last year’s and this year’s Acoustic Blues Artist of the Year award at the UK Blues Awards – but this live album showcases Martin as an accomplished blues rock artist. Recorded at The Harlington in Fleet, Martin, accompanied by Dave Thompson on bass and Laurence McKeown on drums/percussion, reels off a selection of Dom Martin originals, three of which are new and not previously recorded, and a number of Rory Gallagher covers.

Martin proves himself an able electric guitarist, improvising with some aplomb at length on a number of these 13 tracks. It wasn’t so long ago that Martin was busking on the streets of Belfast, but with his recent well-acclaimed album, Spain to Italy, now this live electric album and another album due to appear early next year, his busking days are well and truly behind him.

And rightly so. He’s quite a talent – great guitarist, fine singer and excellent song-writer. All of this is in evidence on Live at the Harlington, which kicks off with the seven-minute long Dixie Black Hand, where Martin gives full rein to his guitar soloing. What’s noticeable about his playing is the use of dynamics – everything isn’t just played at eardrum-bursting volume, and the musical contrast adds extra interest to the song. That works well for a recording of a live performance, where you don’t have the visual experience and all the excitement of the atmosphere to add to the music.

Even longer is State of Your Mind, a nine-minute psychedelic instrumental which builds slowly and gives way to reverberating chords, a repeated melodic guitar riff and then improvisation off that riff.

Another Don Martin original is The Man From Nowhere, which takes us into more familiar Dom Martin territory, a lovely acoustic ragtime song where we can appreciate Martin’s well-honed picking style. Antrim Blues is another fine original acoustic song, a minor blues which features not only some nice rhythmic acoustic picking but some cool slide guitar.

A number of the tracks are Rory Gallagher songs, produced with the permission and endorsement of the Gallagher family. Martin cites Gallagher as one of his inspirations and his soloing and vocals for sure do the songs justice. First up are Hands Off and Laundromat, where we get to hear Martin playing fast and furious and hear the vocal similarities between him and Gallagher. A couple of the songs date back to Gallagher’s time with Taste in the late 1960s, including the bluesy Railway and Gun, which features a great vocal performance by Martin.

This fine live album finishes with Martin’s own Dealer from his excellent 2019 Spain to Italy album. While we await another studio album from Dom Martin, there’s a great deal to enjoy in this live set of songs. The variety of originals and Rory Gallagher songs works well, as does the blues rock – acoustic variation. Throughout the band does a great job and Martin’s guitar work and singing are terrific. Recommended.

Check out our interview with Dom Martin here.