Review: Martin Stephenson and the Daintees, The Greystones

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A strange thing happens whenever I go to see Martin Stephenson, with or without the Daintees.

I have all his albums, from his 1980s hey-day with the North-east band to all the subsequent solo stuff. It’s fair to say I am a fan of his music.

Yet, live, it’s always the bits in between some of the best songs of the last 30 years that I enjoy the most.

You see, Martin loves to talk. And I love listening to him.

I’m not the only one.

At the Greystones - where you just might be seeing more of him now that his daughter is at university in the city - songs from the sublime 80s classic, Gladsome, Humour and Blue, form the basis of a thumping two-hour set.

I can’t quite forgive him for tweaking Wholly Humble Heart and turning one of the most haunting ‘slowies’ of my lifetime into something more electric and upbeat, but, God, the rest was good.

He’s just a naturally funny man, yet behind the wit and laughs which pepper the show is a seriously intelligent man capable of genuine, thought-provoking, soul-searching thinking. His topics - and they’re never the same two nights running - ranged from Downs Syndrome and recording songs in a £1,000-a-day studio to drug-taking, spirituality (but not in that, you know, boring way) and golf.

Yes, really, golf.

It was good to see the place packed to the rafters, and he and the band received the same rapturous acclaim they used to when they were regulars in the city more years ago than any of us care to remember.

Lots of young people among the 40 and 50-somethings in the audience too, so the legacy is obviously living on.

I left, as I always do, pondering things in a slightly deeper way than I normally would.

I love Martin Stephenson for that.