Lee Martin – Kumeu Live, 30 April 2022: Concert Review

Lee Martin won the hearts of everyone who attended the intimate lounge style venue in Auckland’s Wild West. She’s a true Van Morrison aficionado and looks like Janet Planet riding around with him in Woodstock. Have a look at the (vinyl) cover of Tupelo Honey.

Martin is South African and currently lives in Christchurch. Passionate about music and song-writing almost before she started school. Classical guitar lessons aged nine, and took off from there.

Lee MartinKnowing nothing about her, I was drawn to this show because my internal Belfast Cowboy antenna had sounded off. Or something like that. With long straight blond locks Martin looks like a hippie from Woodstock. And I mean the little town in upstate New York where Dylan and many other musicians hung out for a while and the classic Basement Tapes were put down. Not the mud festival at Yasgur’s farm.

When I was Still with You starts the first set and it’s a Folk song with her style of phrasing distinctly from the Seventies Morrison period.

Miss You is Country Soul. A song of heart break perfectly underlined by a smoky saxophone. She can sound a little like Jeannie C. Riley, with some of the huskiness of Marianne Faithfull.

Her songs are predominantly stories from deep in the Americana of the Southern States. The rest of the band are dressed to look the part and give stellar support. Chris Ward guitar, Ben Lill saxophone, Brad Meyer bass and Stacy Miles drums.

Lee Martin

This tour is promoting her album released in February this year, Gypsy Soul.

Daydreaming is one of the highlights tonight. It begins with a guitar intro which replicates Love in Vain as done by Keith Richard on countless live Rolling Stone bootlegs. Country Soul with a Gospel presence which rises up and overwhelms, as Amazing Grace appears from inside the song. On the album there are Gospel backing singers from South Africa. On stage Martin conveys that same passion with superb pacing and dynamics. She ends up testifying in style as the guitar takes a liquid solo.

The album title does come from the classic Van Morrison song Into the Mystic, and that is the solitary cover tonight. The bass starts in jazz fashion like a James Jamerson Motown signature riff. Martin has a nice lower register vocal. Saxophone sounds off on that foghorn.

Many of the songs are Americana Country with an underpinning of Deep Southern Soul. I’m Not Crazy starts with a shimmering guitar which leads into a slow burning, smouldering passion.    Don’t you forget about me/ Don’t point that finger at me. Just as good as Etta James singing, I’d Rather Go Blind.

Fool matches that in style and spirit.

Whiskey and Red Wine delivers on a fine Country story song that you would expect with a title like that.

Sick of You Being Sick of Me revs up a few gears into Rock’n’Roll and the sound gets a bit muddy as the volume goes up. The majority of the show has a clear crystalline definition.

New Year’s Eve boogies in style although the vocals get a little buried. Better on Thinking About You which is a slower R’n’B tune with a smoky Bonnie Raitt style vocal, and some nice dirty guitar licks.

Closing the show tonight is an intriguing new song, as yet untitled. Get out of my head/ Get out of my bed. A tough little rocker and when she sings, I’m just a psycho bitch, she sounds like Joan Jett.

Lee Martin won us all over easily with her skilful take on Celtic Soul and Country Americana. A new discovery for most of us and a very welcome one.

Rev Orange Peel

Click any icon to view a gallery of photos from the show.