Gig review: The Solid Air Band @ The Capstone Theatre
Saturday 29th October 2011
The Capstone Theatre was an appropriate setting for The Solid Air Band. They played two sets dedicated to the music of John Martyn, who passed away in 2009. The project is fronted by Mark Byrne, an accomplished singer, songwriter and guitarist in his own right. The band features Nick Lacey on second guitar, Jake Foord on electric and double bass, Vidar Norheim (from Wavemachines) on drumsand Martin Smith on trumpet.
I’ve had the opportunity of seeing the group perform on a couple of occasions, most notably at Mello Mello. Unlike most tribute bands that play for a living, it’s clear that The Solid Air Band play for the love of the music. Mark Byrne performs the songs in his own style and essentially the band capture the spirit and essence of the music rather than playing it note for note.The gig was highlighted by engaging performances and tasteful musicianship. The first half concentrated on Martyn’s more obscure material, although the set did feature songs like ‘Solid Air’ and ‘Spencer The Rover’. The band also played material from Martyn’s latter day albums such as ‘Grace And Danger’ and ‘On The Cobbles’.
A member of the audience admitted they had never heard of John Martyn and wanted to know more about him. Mark told a short story about the artist and it was clear that he knew his subject well. The banter in between songs prevented the gig from being too serious and the band seemed very much at ease with the audience. The second set featured classic material like ‘Bless The Weather’, ‘I Don’t Want To Know’ and ‘Sweet Little Mystery’. They ended the evening with ‘Big Muff’ before encoring with Martyn’s signature tune ‘May You Never’. Overall the Solid Air Band was well received and the vibe was relaxed.
Stuart Todd runs and hosts the award-winning Liverpool Acoustic Live music events with Graham Holland. Stuart was formally in the group Triad before leaving to do solo work. In recent years he has had a successful partnership with local classical guitarist and composer Neil Campbell with whom he formed the duo Campbell Todd. He has also been in the band The Freebies and involved with a number of creative writing projects. His current band is called Three Minute Hero.