Head of Steam, Newcastle.
27th May 2016.
Martha Ffion, the Irish singer-songwriter with an exotic Welsh surname’s first visit to Newcastle was on a cold and wet February day in 2015 and she was still unknown. Fast forward to the May Bank Holiday Friday in 2016 and she has a slight line-up change (due to a conflict of schedules) and the sweaty basement of Head of Steam pub and it’s a much, much bigger audience.
Sadly, this particular date had timing issues with the venue running behind on schedule’ which I tried to take advantage of to get a drink; but unfortunately meant I missed half of local support, Kate Edwards and my heart sank a bit when I caught the last few bars of Every Key, however I did see her use a loop pedal for her song Versions which was new to me.
For the second support Polo I got chatting to a friend, resulting in my missing all but the last song and a half of one. They were a three-piece full of electro beats and glittery eyes and more than impressed me in this short time, so much so that the next time I see them on a billing I am going to make even The Queen wait for me so I can catch a full set.
Third time lucky and my timing was spot-on for seeing Martha Ffion for the third time, albeit with a different drummer and only two guitarists instead of three. The packed crowd were buzzing with expectation during the strong opening song Sugarcoat and then Martha picked up her own guitar for Record Sleeves. I had heard that Martha plays guitar but mainly at the more stripped back shows, so actually seeing this was pretty exciting for me; but being the modest person that she is, Martha played it down but played very well until the fourth last number, when ‘tuning’ did not go in her favour. Her band though covered this up well and with no disrespect to Martha, her band are that good that we did not have noticed the missing guitar.
A lot more new faces were in the crowd tonight, which is credit to how far Martha has come in these past few months and just like last time she had scheduled a show the same night as some very popular local bands were playing nearby; so the packed crowd was a special surprise.
The energy in the room came from both the band and the audience; which was particularly evident when we got to hear a few new numbers, namely Real Love which guitarist Craig dedicated to Rafa Benitez (the current NUFC manager if you are not in the know!) A few muted laughs from the crowd proved that we were there for some real music and not football banter; but nice try Craig!
We then go into Take Your Name, which took the sound into a heavier direction to that I am used to from Martha Ffion. And it was brilliant that it was a shame it was then announced they only had a few numbers to go, as if you did not get the feeling earlier then definitely by this point you did not want Martha and her boys to stop playing. Unfortunately though just as their final song ended, Martha jumped off stage thanking Newcastle with each member following suit, the house lights and music came on, not even giving a chance for anyone to shout encore.
My only criticism of the night would be that there were times Martha’s vocals seemed slightly muffled. This was not by any means the bands fault as most of the evening you could hear everything perfectly.
The charisma of Martha and her boys exude was so captivating that it was only on reflection that I realised what another great performance I had witnessed on Friday.
In the three times I have seen Martha in four months she and the band have gotten tighter and tighter and I am already getting excited for the next Martha show and as it seems the local Martha Ffion fan base is growing daily, I believe she will be back and we will get that encore.
Courtesy Victoria Ling aka Lil Vik