Dom Martin’s Savage at The Harlington, Fleet – Concert Review
Every so often, a new face appears on the scene that shakes the music firmament to its core. Before they have played a note, before they have opened their throat to sing, they give off an aura of great potential and you know they are going to be very special. They don’t appear very often, but when they do, you don’t need to be told that you are in the presence of greatness. Dom Martin is one of those people. The Belfast-born guitarist burst onto the UK blues scene in 2018 rapidly building a strong following amongst those that were lucky enough to catch him in the early days. Since then he has picked up a European Blues award (Best Solo/Acoustic act 2019) and UK Blues best Acoustic Act 2020, toured the UK twice and appeared at some of the top UK Blues Festivals – International Guinness Blues on the Bay Festival, the International Rory Gallagher Festival and the Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival in Colne, Lancashire to name a few – along with tours in Russia and Europe.
Sunday at The Harlington in Fleet, Hampshire in conjunction with The Underground Music Club – two bodies that are pulling out all the stops to ensure that grassroots music has a home now and in the future – sees the other side of Dom Martin. Most people there had seen the acoustic Dom, but today was about Dom the rocker. Backed by Laurence McKeown on drums and Dave Thompson on bass, Dom delivered a breath-taking two hour set of some of the best blues rock around. Featuring songs from his debut Album, “Spain to Italy” released last year on CD and recently re-released on vinyl, along with covers from John Martyn, Rory Gallagher and others, this was a clear reminder of what so many have missed this year – Live music, as raw and visceral as you could ever want.
Opening with a cover of Led Zeppelin’s instrumental, “Moby Dick”; Laurence’s drums a veritable wall of thunder and Dave’s Bass pulsing and growling while Dom’s fingers flew over the fretboard as he prowled the stage, before sliding into “Dixie Black Hand”, one of his own and keeping the rock high on the agenda. This was followed by a quartet of Rory Gallagher covers. Dom, by his own admission is a big Rory fan, and very much influenced by his style. It’s fair to say that Dom plays with a similar fluidity and grace. Saying that, he is also very much a musician and song-writer in his own right as “Hell for you” clearly demonstrates as he switches guitar for a more acoustic-influenced section featuring Taste’s “Railway and the Gun” and a new song “State of your Mind”. in his own words, “State of your Mind” is ‘very experimental’ and a departure from his usual blues-based style, venturing into the world of progressive rock with lots of neck bending to make that guitar howl and moan, before treating the audience to the deep-down dirty blues of “Antrim Blues”
For the final part of the show, Dom switches to a properly beaten up acoustic for another new one, “The Man from Nowhere” which sees Laurence donning a washboard for this down-home blues followed by a cover of John Martyn’s “Jelly Roll Baker” and a trio of originals to close the show. After a performance like this there was no way the band could slip quietly into the gloom, and they were happy to come back for an encore.
The encore was one of those moments that will live on in the memories of those that were there for a long, long time. Someone, knowing of Dom’s love for Rory Gallagher, had offered up his Fender Custom Shop Rory Gallagher Tribute Stratocaster for Dom to play. There was something about this humble, easy going lad in a check shirt, picking up that unmistakable, life-worn guitar that brought an excited hush to the room as he plugged in. The ghosts were definitely stirring as the band launched into a fiery rendition of Rory’s classic “Tattooed Lady” leaving the crowd breathless and definitely wanting more. Sadly, with ferry back to Belfast in a few hours there was no more time this time, but with luck Dom Martin’s Savages will be back for a bit longer in the new year.
Dom Martin’s Savages are: Dom Martin – Guitars, Vocals. Dave Thompson – Bass. Laurence McKeown – Drums, Percussion.
Moby Dick – Dixie Black Hand / Hands Off / Trio – (Laundromat, Morning Sun, What’s Going on) / Hell For You – Blue Colours / Railway and the Gun / State of your Mind / Antrim Blues / The man from Nowhere / Jelly Roll Baker / Mercy / The Rain Came-Dealer
Encore: Tattooed Lady