Review: Martin Harley, supported by Sam Lewis, at Liverpool Marina – 13th November 2013

Posted on: Friday, Nov 15, 2013


Martin Harley, supported by Sam Lewis, at Liverpool Marina – 13th November 2013

A large gathering at Liverpool Marina warmly welcomed the double acoustic bill of Martin Harley and Sam Lewis.

The show was opened by East Nashville rising star, Sam Lewis, who was performing his first ever gig in the UK. With his clear-toned, James Taylor-like vocals, he delivered a set of finely-crafted original numbers, accompanied by some neat acoustic guitar playing, giving due credit to the influence of John Prine and Bonnie Raitt on two of his compositions. He closed with his own, personalised arrangement of Roy Orbison’s “Crying” to complete a most enjoyable prelude to the evening’s entertainment.

Martin Harley settled into his set on lap slide guitar with a couple of his own excellent compositions before embarking on a superb performance of Muddy Waters’s “Can’t Be Satisfied”, complete with some terrific guitar work. He then switched to acoustic guitar on a couple of numbers with some wonderful finger-picking before inviting Sam Lewis to join him on stage. Together, they excelled on another original composition followed by brilliant versions of Leadbelly’s “Goodnight Irene” and Tom Waits’s “Chocolate Jesus”.

Reverting to solo mode, Martin introduced a third guitar into the fray – a unique, somewhat eccentric, oversized monster – for backing on “Ball & Chain”. He then switched back to lap slide for a tremendous delivery of the doom-laden slow blues “Blues At My Window” and acoustic guitar for “Honey Bee”, an upbeat rag embellished by some wonderful finger-picking. The marvellous set was brought to its all too quick conclusion with Blind Willy Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” and two loudly-demanded encores comprising “Spoonful” and a final number in conjunction with Sam Lewis.

Liverpool Marina has been graced by a selection of top quality acoustic artistes, including Ben Andrews, Doug MacLeod, Hans Theessink and Toby Walker, and it is very much to Martin Harley’s credit that he is right up there with the best of them, supplementing his excellent vocals and stunning guitar playing with informative and humourous asides. In short, he is a class act.


Lionel Ross

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