SUNDERLAND songwriter Martin Stephenson is such a regular visitor to Glasgow that he probably knows most of his audience personally by now, striking up an easy, informal rapport from the off.
Martin Stephenson & the Daintees
Oran Mor, Glasgow
It certainly takes a degree of familiarity to get away with a bizarre guest Donald Duck impersonator on country folk ditty Duck Bill Blues. Even his reprimand to a noisy hen party in the corner (“I’d like to thank everyone who is here tonight to listen”) came across as a good-natured tease.
But behind the joshing, there was a tightness to the playing, with each of the Daintees afforded the opportunity to flex their musical muscles, and often a socio-political point to the lyrics. Stephenson is a veteran of the Thatcher-bating 1980s, from when survives the quietly seething jazz blues noodle of Left Us to Burn and anti-Clause 28 number Wholly Humble Heart, given a southern rock twist thanks to the blistering guest vocals of Monica Queen.
Stephenson entertained a mix of styles across a two-hour set without seeming schizophrenic. The fast-paced acoustic rockabilly of Look Down Look Down must have given Jake Bugg some ideas, while the easygoing lover’s rock of I’m In Love For The First Time twiddled on a tad too long.
He invited a couple of limp audience singalongs but a tender rendition of Rain, from his 1986 debut album Boat to Bolivia, was the one to reverberate softly through the crowd, even though Stephenson couldn’t resist puncturing the reverie with a jokey commentary.
Seen on 25.09.15