From uploading covers to YouTube at 12 years old to selling out Glasgow a decade later, the Billie Marten story has been incredible so far.
Billie Marten, the 22 year old singer-songwriter from North Yorkshire, is finally able to tour her latest release, Flora Fauna. It is her third album to date, released back in May to considerable acclaim, and provides the bulk of her setlist when she performs at King Tut’s.
Next to her previous work, Billie significantly ups the rock factor on Flora Fauna, which is a dynamic that suits King Tut’s perfectly. Marten is not alone on stage but accompanied by a tight band - a second guitarist, a bassist, and a drummer. Both the album and tonight’s set begin with Garden of Eden; the bouncing bassline and invigorating drum track make it a natural opener. Creature of Mine goes down well with its irresistible chorus, and the audience sings joyfully along. The riffs and grooves of Human Replacement get every head in the crowd bobbing, and every right foot is soon tapping along to the shifting rhythms of Ruin.
About halfway through the set, the band leave the stage, and Marten performs with just her acoustic guitar and her soft, enchanting voice. The crowd waits on her every breath, and there is a palpable intimacy in the room. Liquid Love goes down like a mulled wine on a winter’s evening, followed by equally stripped back versions of La Lune and Cursive, hits from Marten’s earlier catalogue. The hardcore fans among the audience are visibly moved to hear them, especially in this intimate format.
The band returns after the acoustic interlude to once again increase the volume, as Billie vents “I am sick of branding and one legged pigeons” from much-lauded track Pigeon. Kill The Clown is another mover of bodies, its syncopation hard not to gyrate to, as Billie’s silky voice glides serenely above.
Marten then “closes” her set with Heaven - a slow number - but it is clear from the rapturous applause that an encore is on the cards. Marten duly obliges. Throughout the night, various audience members had cried out requesting Blue Sea, Red Sea, and those who had were euphorically rewarded when Marten ended things with a stirring rendition of it.
All in all, it was a high-class performance, filled with quality material. I wasn’t certain beforehand if Billie Marten had the catalogue to pull off a headline set at such a famous venue, but she undoubtedly proved me wrong. I recommend both her and Flora Fauna wholeheartedly.
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