I’ve always been a little bit sceptical of anyone covering Bruce Springsteen’s music. I’ve assumed I’d find it difficult to hear a new version of a song when I’m so fond of the original, spending years growing to love the way that Bruce sings and plays it.
A few months back a couple of Springsteen fans told me about a Welsh singer-songwriter called Martyn Joseph. They all said that he is a highly talented writer and charismatic performer with a dedicated following, and that he occasionally plays fantastic renditions of Springsteen songs, his musical hero. I couldn’t make the dates of his tour at the time, but I sent my dad to see him, who was really taken in by Martyn, his song-writing and his relaxed performance style.
This week Martyn Joseph put on a special London show at Cecil Sharp House, the home of the English Folk Dance & Society (I really never thought I’d end up there). The one off performance was a night of his Springsteen covers, taken from his album Tires Rushing By In The Rain. I was nervous to go if I’m honest, unsure if I could sit through an evening of someone singing songs I already adore exactly the way they are.
But I was completely entranced. Martyn is a humble, humorous performer who put his own spin on Bruce Springsteen’s writing, without making his versions too far removed from the original. The set included brilliant renditions of Factory – Martyn commented that he’d decided to cover it after seeing it in a new light after watching that film about “Me and Bruce” – otherwise known as Springsteen and I. Another highlight for me was Growin’ Up, I actually think I preferred Martyn’s version to Springsteen’s. The Promise too was particularly special, with one of the audience members telling Martyn during a brief Q&A that he better hope Bruce never hears that version of his song, because he’d want it back for himself. I really never thought I would want to hear anyone else sing Badlands, but joined by his pal Willy Porter on stage, it was fun seeing a new acoustic version of this song.
Martyn commented that his night of singing Springsteen songs would probably just be a one off, but that he’d had a lot of fun – he looked quite overwhelmed and humbled by the positive response from the crowd. I’d love to see him perform them again, but I’ll also be making sure his gigs, with his own music, are always in my diary.
Martyn Joseph’s album of Bruce Springsteen covers, Tires Rushing By In The Rain, is available to buy on Backstreets here and Amazon here. If you do one thing today, buy this album.
And then have a look at these @GreasyLake‘s videos from the night – Happy and The Promise:
Thank you Martyn for an incredible night!