Recently, my wife and I made yet another trip to go see Martin Sexton. For me this was somewhere around the 15th time I have seen Martin live. The first time was at what seemed like an at gallery called CSPS in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. His music is powerful and speaks to me on such a deep level, that I make it a point to see him as much as possible.
I have seen him in Minneapolis, Chicago, NYE in Northampton and even in a tiny bar in Ames, Iowa (that one was for my wife’s 21st birthday).
This show at Infinity Hall was one of the best Martin Sexton shows I have ever seen. You never know what form a Martin Sexton show will take. Most of the time he performs solo. Just him and the guitar. For quite a while he was touring as a duo with drummer Joe Bonadio and recently he has even had a full band. This show was Martin solo (my preferred format) and at the start of the show he announced that later on he was going to play some brand new material.
As most of Martin’s shows do, it started with him strolling onto the stage, plugging in, saying hello and then deciding what song to play at that moment. This night, he choose one of my favorites, “Freedom of The Road” from the Black Sheep album. Much like a jazz musician, Martin completely transforms every song when he performs it. He stretches the time, inserts other tunes inside and generally goes where he wants to within the tune. I would imagine this is a big reason why he performs solo so often.
Martin always does a great job of mixing up the set list. However this was the first show that I have seen where he didn’t do any covers. A highlight of the first set was “Love Keep Us Together”. Not only haven’t I heard that song in a while, my wife and I used it in our wedding. Overall the first set focused on classic Martin tunes and was fairly low key with the only rocker being “Beast In Me”.
During the intermission, a music stand with lyrics was set up along with a stool and a mic. When Martin returned, he was joined my Dan McKenzie on guitar. He mentioned that him and Dan had been writing some new songs for an album that will be released in the spring. For the four new songs, Dan played guitar while Martin sang. It was quite unusual to not only see Martin play with another guitarist, but to see him sing and not play guitar himself.
The new material was very strong. The audience responded nicely to it and I am SO looking forward to the new album. After Dan left the stage, Martin returned to the vintage material that his fans know so well. “Golden Road” and “Angeline” were the standouts of the set for me.
This show was a better than average Martin Sexton show and it looks like since he seemed to like the venue and the show was sold out, I would imagine he would be back. If you get the chance to see Martin live, please take a chance, go see him and bring a friend.
For tour dates, check out www.martinsexton.com
Martin Sexton – October 9th, 2009 – Infinity Hall, Norfolk, CT
Set One: Freedom of the Road, Diggin’ Me, Diggin’ You, Love Keep Us Together, The Beast In Me, Candy, Marry Me, Happy, Failure, There Go I
Set Two: Grateful to Be Alive*, Stick Around*, Friends Again*, Boom*, Gypsy Woman, Diner, Can’t Stop Thinking About You, Golden Road, Glory Bound, Angeline
Encore: Black Sheep>Turn On Your Lovelight
*With Dan McKenzie, Brand new songs (not certain about titles)