De Rosa were very much an entry point for me into the independent Scottish music scene and through seeing them I was introduced to Kid Canaveral. From seeing them, I first came across Cancel The Astronauts and through them, the Bad Books.
So going to see De Rosa has indirectly produced two thirds of the bill on the 11th. That would have been reason enough to ask Martin to play but the fact that both the kids are big fans more than sealed the deal and not surprisingly he was one of the first acts I approached to play. I’m honoured that he’s agreed to play, not least because at the moment this songwriter who is so plugged into Scotland is living in exile south of the border in Sunderland.
It’s difficult to imagine many people reading this not knowing who Martin is, but a brief history lesson seems appropriate.
I first heard De Rosa, not long after the release of their fine debut LP ‘Mend’. It’s a record Martin has described as working out the influence of American alternative rock on his songwriting and whilst there are undoubtedly elements of that on the record, ‘Mend’ also establishes an identity for Martin’s work that is discernible on all his releases since – albeit that both full length albums have expanded his range considerably.
De Rosa’s second LP ‘Prevention’ (2009) moved into new territory with electronics added to the sound and a successful run of dates, including a short UK tour supporting Doves, augured well for the record. Instead the band split leaving Martin to reinvent himself as a solo artist.
2011’s debut solo LP ‘The Other Half of Everything’ retained much of the constituent parts of the De Rosa sound but rather than a varied collection of songs with different influences (as ‘Prevention’ had been) he moulded the same influences into a more consistent sound on ‘The Other Half’.
2012 brought the surprising but welcome news that De Rosa had reformed and in September the five members retreated to rural Perthshire to lay down tracks for the third De Rosa LP. These recordings in part draw on some of the songs used in the internet only project ‘Appendices’ released before ‘Prevention’ but mostly written after the songs for that record.
Martin has spent much of the autumn in the Human Don’t Be Angry live band but more often than not has opened these shows with a solo acoustic set.
It’s in that guise that he will come to Cupar next weekend. With a strong back catalogue of songs to draw from, he supplements these with new tunes from the forthcoming De Rosa record as well as the odd choice cover.
If you want to find out what he sounds like, then check out the ‘Live On Land’ EP featuring 8 tracks recorded on his recent European jaunt with HDBA. Included on the EP is his cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Army Dreamers’ which he’s occasionally performed with De Rosa but more frequently on his own.
Here it is:
Martin John Henry performs at ‘A Brighter Beat’ at Watt’s of Cupar on Sunday 11th November alongside the Bad Books, Sam Barber and the Outcasts, Cancel The Astronauts, Kid Canaveral and TV21.
The show is a family friendly event which runs from 2pm until 9pm. Tickets are £10 in advance (£5 for Under 16s) from Watt’s, Avalanche in Edinburgh and Groucho’s in Dundee or online from Brown Paper Tickets.
Proceeds for the show will go to the Kingdom Kids charity.