The Mining Institute, Newcastle
28th October 2016
Martha Ffion appearing at The Mining Institute was always going to be a magical affair and with a stellar line up of supports it really was a special night last Friday.
Durham based, Soham De is an artist who comes across as a ‘nice guy’ with a cheeky grin. Having seen him a few times before, he always delivers a ‘nice set.’ Nothing wrong with that however, but tonight there was an air of difference too – perhaps an extra boost of confidence? His sets are always very honest and not just in the lyrical sense with songs such as, We are Alive, which is about anxiety and then relationship woes with Fool I Am and Closure. Tonight the latter was delivered as a rap, something I have never witnessed Soham do before. Something about this performance makes me excited for this guys future.
Sticking with the chilled out theme, Afnan Prince delivered a very slick performance in both song and conversation. Afnan commanded his audience with vocal acrobatics and humour, introducing ‘Ice Cream Spoons’ – ‘the song with a weird title’ but as it is his song he can ‘call it whatever he wants.’ This makes Afnan an even more likable character, if his charm had not already taken you. A brilliant surprise during his set was when Shannon Powell of local duo YUMA joined him for a beautiful duet on Memories which he performed on the keyboards. Hearing their harmonies blend together was emotionally heartwarming.
Tonight, the final support of the night, Lake Komo (who are normally a Massive Attack sounding four piece) come to us as a two-piece, as the drummer had been taken ill. Half of the Lake Komo set was an acoustic affair, which silenced the crowd as they took in the vocals of guitarist, Jay, as the keyboards from Jess blended in with him. Lake Komo, or at least this version, let the music do the talking. There were no introductions to the songs with the exception of the last, Milwaukee, which had the Mining Institute transfixed.
After three supports of chilled out acoustic sounds, Martha and The Homemakers then brought the sound and turned up the volume a few extra notches as they kicked off with the opening track of the TRIP EP, School Nurse which morphed into the 1960s soulful indie-pop sound of Wallflower. The energy of Martha and her band from the get-go was electric and brought the crowd that were pushed back for the supports closer to the front (but not too close!) and Martha as a front lady engaged them with her small talk filling the room with a buzz of excitement as those familiar with the songs sang along to the mini back catalogue. This buzz was fed back to the band as drummer Lewis lost his glasses half way through Punch Drunk Love. Ever the professional he did not even miss a beat as Martha and her boys carried on.
New songs like Real Love and Take Your Name made the set, which cements the sound of Martha Ffion making her a more recognized name in the music industry. It’s a sound that so many are trying to achieve yet failing. It is that 1960s feel with a fresh noughties vibe too. This is very apparent when Lead Balloon kicks off sounding a bit like the Archies, Sugar Sugar then they turn up the rock element, going straight into No Applause as the night was wrapped up with murmurs from the crowd of how ‘tight the sound was’ in these magical surroundings, as portraits of the Mining and Mechanical Engineers of the North East’s Industrial past look down on us as we were awed in Martha’s music.