Review: Martin Harley – Out To Lunch 2019
As the Out to Lunch Festival continues with many artists performing throughout the month of January, Friday night belonged to Martin Harley – a singer-songwriter and slide guitarist from Cardiff, Wales. Hailed as a “slide guitar master” by Roots Magazine, his performances promise the listener a “masterclass in taste, style and roots blues” according to Guitarist Magazine. I was very excited for what was to come.
Before Harley hit the stage the crowd were treated to a wonderful performance from Portadown based singer-songwriter Ciara O’Neill. O’Neill delivered a set of six songs with standout tracks such as “Hurtin’” and “Arrow” which were written during her time in Nashville. Ciara’s performance was thoroughly enjoyable, and I will definitely be heading to see her again. An angelic, beautiful voice with heartfelt lyrics.
After a short break Harley came to the stage, sat down and picked up his guitar. He started with “One For The Road” a gentle folk ballad that immediately gave the audience an insight into just how good he really was. “Thank you everyone for a warm welcome” said Harley as he finished playing. “I feel like playing a song in G Minor”, to which he tuned his guitar and started “Trouble“. I have always loved when acts take the time to tell anecdotes between songs, and Harley had mastered this aspect of his performance, telling us that he never plays the same set twice.
“Dancing On The Rocks” followed and Harley seemed to descend into a trance, pouring his heart and soul into the guitar. “One Horse Town” followed, which was a song detailing his move from the city to the countryside, to a town that had a “permanent population of 12.”
The set continued with “Postcard from Hamburg” and “Feet Don’t Fail Me“. Following these was a Muddy Waters cover, “Cant Be Satisfied” which gave us an insight as to just how powerful his voice could be.
“Honey Bee” was played next, a happy song which he admitted he didn’t have many of. Harley’s set was finished off by a Blind Willie Johnson Cover. “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” which for me, was one of the highlights of the night. The encore followed which included an audience requested performance of “Winter Coat“. Which, like many of his songs had a brilliant story along with it.
Martin Harley gave the Sunflower Bar a masterclass in songs of heartbreak, loss, misery and despair, and brought some delta blues to Belfast. Promising to be back before the year is out, I would encourage anyone to go along. You won’t be disappointed.