Photos by Kelsey Winterkorn
Opening for Martin Sexton at the Fillmore and for the better part of the his tour was the Ryan Montbleau Band. Coming from Massachusetts just like Sexton, the band shares a similar sound and feel. Light and flowing, with songs driven by acoustic guitar, the group gave an energetic performance that was well received by the audience. Montbleau on guitar and vocals has a smooth and melodic voice that played well to the audience that filled the Fillmore Auditorium as 10PM approached.
After a brief break, Martin Sexton came out on stage. As the Fillmore erupted into cheers and applause, Sexton with his solid body acoustic/electric guitar, began with fan-favorite “Hallelujah.” Even if this version was a bit slower than usual, it was a catchy and popular way to start the show. From here, Sexton was in his typical form, talking to the crowd and playing to the energy that was exchanged back and forth. On multiple occasions he told stories of San Francisco, or added the town to the lyrics. Getting the audience to clap and sing choruses is one of the roles Martin Sexton does best and tonight was no different. He also engaged the crowd with his beautiful falsetto, while at other times, running his voice through synthesizers, he was able create multiple instrumental solos from his voice. With echo, reverb and electronic effects, it really metamorphosed his voice into a new and experimental instrument.
The show was a whirlwind of Sexton favorites, as he delivered “Candy”, “Wasted”, Keep Us Together” and the jumpin’ “Diner” in the first hour alone. He also played new songs from his latest album Sugarcoating. “Livin’ the Life”, one of these new compositions, received a great reception, as Sexton played his guitar as well as using it for percussive purposes, tapping it between strumming out chords.
After about an hour on stage carrying the load all by himself, the Ryan Montbleau Band joined him. Then with a fuller sound he performed “How Far I’ve Come” from his album Seeds, and “Beast In Me” from The American.
For an encore he came out and once again took to the stage as a solo performer. Sexton then finished the night with the crowd-pleasers “Blacksheep” and “The Way I Am.” It was a great way to end an evening of light and engaging music. Martin Sexton has been touring pretty much non-stop for the past 15 years, expanding on his catalog of songs while delivering a fun evening. There is a sense of timelessness to Sexton, as he brings his distinctive voice and his always personal performance, which hasn’t aged at all over the years.