AT a time when true characters in music appear all too thin on the ground, thank goodness for Martin Stephenson.

In a show as far removed from the over-produced, manufactured, autotuned world of plastic pop as it’s possible to get, Stephenson was the modern day troubadour armed with a trusty guitar, a lifetime of experience and a head full of tunes.

With his denim dungarees, battered leather jacket and cap he could have stepped straight off a box car during the Dustbowl era.

And much of the night had an American theme with Country and Western swing featuring prominently in a 90-minute set.

Stephenson was the rising star in the mid eighties who turned his back on fame and fortune with his band the Daintees.

We were treated to one or two gems from the back catalogue including Wholly Humble Heart, Little Red Bottle and Goodbye John plus plenty more besides.

From the moment he walked on stage eating a packet of crisps - cheese and onion we were later informed - this was never going to be your average gig.

At times it bordered on the chaotic as Stephenson plucked stories from his life seemingly at random and ad libbed his way through verses of songs.

At any other show a couple appearing to have a domestic in loud whispers during the set would have been annoying, here it was strangely appropriate.

Stephenson is an engaging, hugely likeable and massively talented man.

With his trusty fiddle/mandolin player Jim at his side, a small but appreciative audience loved every minute of his company.

Hopefully the wandering minstrel will head this way again soon.