Published on July 5th, 2014 | by Mike Ainscoe0
MARTYN JOSEPH: ‘Let Yourself’ Trust launch gig @ Ashton Memorial, Lancaster 29.6.14
Dominating the Lancashire skyline and with views on a clear day across to the landmarks of Blackpool, the Isle of Man and the Lakeland fells, is the Ashton Memorial. Built in the early twentieth century by industrialist Baron Ashton in memory of his second wife, it’s become known as the Taj Mahal of the north. As near as dammit to the mathematical centre of the UK and built of impressive Portland stone (history lesson over) it was the venue for the third of three gigs set up to launch Martyn Joseph’s Let Yourself Trust. He’s described the Trust as something which is “the natural extension to the stories I have woven through my music for the past three decades,” and taking the inspiration, if that’s the right word, by visits to the war-torn Middle East and seeing first hand the suffering, poverty and hardship that led to the decision to act by doing a bit more than writing and singing about it. The aim of the trust is focused in raising awareness and funds to help schemes such as the first project – the children’s Alrowward Theatre in Bethlehem, not only around the world but also at home in the UK.
Always an artist who is passionate about his words and music, he seems particularly driven and vehement about the Let Yourself Trust, hence the special events to give the launch a real impetus. Following up events in Cardiff and Milton Keynes, the latter honoured by the notable presence of the trust patron, Bob Harris, it may have been a case of saving the best till last, surely the grandest of the settings more than justifying the slight hike in the ticket cost. Opening up with a video introduction by a cricket bat (a birthday gift from MJ) wielding Bob Harris – “They paid twenty quid for Bob Harris; you paid £40 and got him on film,” but with a drinks reception in the intimate venue, a chance to press the flesh with Martyn himself, and a copy of the brand new specially recorded ‘Kiss The World Beautiful’ CD included, plus the feel good factor of knowing that you were in your own way, helping to make a difference, was reason enough.
The event was far from being a big sell – he was preaching pretty much to the converted after all – but the evening was quite a charged and emotional one. Aside from the Bob Harris intro, the second set began with a short film clip about the work of the trust with a commentary from Martyn which had his voice breaking with emotion at the gratitude he felt from the support of his audience both in attendance and beyond. Otherwise, it was business as usual with a typically intense performance, especially in the second set with the delivery of the freshly written ‘Luxury Of Despair’, itself inspired by a phrase picked up from a conversation with one of the workers whose hope and faith provided the sort of inspiration which fires a man like Martyn Joseph into using his voice in becoming such a proactive fundraiser. It seems trivial to be talking about the music when there is such a bigger picture, yet rather than harping on about the setlist and the intensity of the performance amidst a rapt audience in a stunning venue, get a hold of the CD – the proceeds will go straight to a good cause and you’ll get a record of quality music from a man who cares with a religious zeal. Talking of which and seeing as it was a Sunday, it was quite a fitting end to the evening as Martyn bid farewell to each and every member of the audience at the exit as they left; akin to a vicar blessing his flock after a particularly rousing sermon. Amen to that.
For more photos of the gig click here