So I’ve started a blog about my musical exploits and songwriting. Why?
Thursday night felt like one of those moments in life you have, where you look back and think: ‘Wow. That was a life-changing event.’
The venue wasn’t a fancy one – I’ve played at the Joiners a couple of times over the years and it’s a good, solid local music venue that holds about 150 people. I traveled from my university in Swansea down to Southampton to play there this time, spending 4 hours on a train with Fletch, one of my best mates from Wales. I spent the previous week stubbornly avoiding any of my actual uni work so that I could sell tickets.
It wasn’t my set that was different either. I played 6 songs, all original, only two of which I’d written in the past 6 months at university. There was a definite strong addition in ‘When She Holds You’, a The Streets-esque number about a mate’s cheating girlfriend with one of the more powerful choruses I’ve written. Besides that it was a standard bunch of tunes.
But the night itself was special. I opened, to a room that was probably as full as I’ve seen in my short, 10-month solo career. And (partly thanks to a stellar and attentive crowd) I got as good a reception as I can remember. Every song was received well and every time I asked for the audience to participate and sing along they did so, with unexpected aplomb given that it was far too early for all but the most hardy drinkers to be anywhere near social lubrication, let alone full-on weapons-grade inebriation.
After my usual rounds talking to spectators and handing out business cards, I settled in to watch the two acts I was supporting; Eaves and Rhodes.
Eaves, otherwise known as 23-year old songwriter Joe Lyons, is a folky, ethereal songwriter unlike anyone I’ve ever really heard. His use of chord structures beyond the ordinary and a pining, soulful wail of a voice has landed him support slots with Nick Mulvey and the opportunity to release his debut album this year.
Joe himself was a very down-to-earth and friendly guy who watched me soundcheck and then invited me up into the green room; uncharted territory for a local musician like myself. He chatted quite candidly about his music, how he started out and was full of great tips for getting myself out there. This blog is part of that process, as well as a revamped Youtube channel and a rebrand.
Rhodes then played with his band to round off the night, and in lieu of the intimate acoustic crooning of Eaves came huge anthemic choruses, sweeping tremolo guitars and big mallets on drums. Rhodes’ music is built for far bigger venues than the Joiners, but he showed versatility, stripping away the production to play ‘Breathe’ on his own. His voice burrows straight into your soul with a subtle rasp at the top end and a huge amount of control over the power that lies beneath. It happened that it was his first tour with the band, but they could have been playing together for years given the tight nature of the set.
I first heard Rhodes’ song ‘Your Soul’ about a year and a half ago on Radio 1 and ever since have kept an eye on him, and so when I found out that I was able to play the gig I was hugely excited. There was no disappointment. It was the best thing I’ve seen in a small venue like that for a very, very long time. Only that night he found out he had 3 songs being featured on American show ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ Exciting times lie ahead for him, I suspect.
After the show, Fletch, my friend Andy and I were invited to stick around for a bit and have a few drinks. I was driving so declined the alcohol but given the opportunity to hang with Rhodes, his band and Eaves, I decided to take it. After a few jokes and some light chit-chat, I asked Rhodes if he would be willing to hear a song of mine, given that he missed my set. After praising my bravery for asking, he agreed and I played him the newest song, When She Holds You. He seemed impressed and his drummer asked to hear another, so I played Supermagnets & Superglue, my quirky love song.
The reception I got in that little room from those signed artists was more meaningful to me than any gig I’ve ever played. And so now, here I am, doing this music thing properly.
GIG DETAILS: 5/3/15
Tom Martin (8pm)
Setlist: Antananarivo – When She Holds You – Drunken Truths – Welsh Winds – Bethany’s Line – Supermagets & Superglue
Wonderland Fashion Show, Swansea Grand Theatre, 10/3/15
Scott Freeman ‘Season Of Blue’ Album Launch, Railway, Winchester, 20/3/15
Edge of the Wedge, Portsmouth, 28/3/15 (afternoon)
No Fools Here! Charity Showcase, Talking Heads, Southampton, 1/4/15
RMA Tavern, Portsmouth, 2/4/15