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  Martin Simpson live at The Victoria Hotel in Largs

There's something about the sea. Even when it is hidden in the dark - as it was on this visit to Largs - you can sense its power. I'm not entirely sure why I got to thinking about the sea while I was listening to Martin Simpson. Perhaps it was because his guitar playing was a tour de force or perhaps it was because his performance was so convincing that I was taken away from the cosy surroundings of the Victoria Hotel and transported off to the time and place of his songs.

I sometimes feel like a veteran in this reviewing business and there's nothing like the sight of one man and a guitar to bring on a feeling of dread. To tell the truth, I'm not even particularly fond of folk music. Two songs in, however, and I'm convinced. Martin Simpson's reputation as a guitarist proves well founded and he shows that easy going style, that ability to make the complex look straightforward, that sense of dynamics and fluidity that only the finest musicians possess. He is also an engaging raconteur and tells tales of people he met in the truck stops of Arkansas and of those he met on the streets of New Orleans where he once lived. It makes you wonder if an interesting life is the reward for his talent or vice versa but, either way, these people clearly seem to have provided him with his inspiration.

Write from the heart. That's what my muse says to me. It is the only way that they will believe what you have written. I think that Martin Simpson's musical muse must have given him the same advice and, from what I experienced, he must have a much bigger heart than I do. It is said that all artists must give something of themselves if they are to succeed and tonight I left thinking that I understood Martin Simpson better through having heard him play.

On a cold winters night I will look out my window at the snow and I shall raise my glass to Martin Simpson for, no matter how cold it is outside, there will always be warmth to be found in his music.

Review Date: October 5, 2009


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