Gig review: Martin Stephenson & the Daintees, Oran Mor, Glasgow

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.

Oran Mor, Glasgow. Picture: Contributed
Oran Mor, Glasgow. Picture: Contributed
Oran Mor, Glasgow. Picture: Contributed

Martin Stephenson & the Daintees

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Rating: ***

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.

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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