Live Report: Billie Marten – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

A superb show from the folk-hewn songwriter...

Billie Marten must have a soft spot for the Midlands – this is my third time catching her live, and each time she does not disappoint.

This time, she was performing on her UK tour supporting ‘Drop Cherries to a packed but intimate venue, Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t struggling to see over the heads of the tall people in front of me – my 5’4 genes really failed me here.

Léa Sen, who admitted she’s a huge fan of Billie’s and made her start by posting covers of her songs, was a fitting support act, who brought the captivated audience to a standstill with her soft vocals and multi-instrumental set. The French singer knew how to get the crowd to play into the palm of her hand, and even said we made her feel comfortable enough to dance in the final song of her set – she’s certainly gained a new fan in me.

Now for the main act, Billie Marten, who recently went to number one in the Official Folk Albums Chart. After seeing her solo acoustic set last month at Nottingham’s Rough Trade, I was intrigued to seeing how she adapted her set to include the cello, keyboard, drums, guitar, and bass seen onstage. And she accomplished this with ease and musical versatility.

The set’s intensity ebbed and flowed, starting off mellow with ‘This Is How We Move’, but soon picked up tempo with the full band participation and crowd singalongs in ‘Garden Of Eden’ and ‘Creature Of Mine’. Her voice sounded identical to her studio versions, and her solo moments where it was just her and her guitar in ‘She Dances’ and ‘Vanilla Baby’ as well as her solo with the keyboard synth in ‘I Bend To Him’ showed the audience why she has been so successful thus far – she has a raw talent which is had to match.

With four albums to her name, Billie seemed to encapsulate her musical eras in a concise but suitable way, leaving time to play her hits ‘La Lune’ and ‘Vanilla Baby’ as well as deeper cuts ‘I Bend To Him’ and ‘Acid Tooth’. Glistening sound effects added charm to the transitions between songs, as the set flowed seamlessly – apart from one minor guitar malfunction which was laughed off.

From Nottingham Forest football talk to a crowd sing-off in ‘Liquid Love’, Billie’s Yorkshire wit made what would have been a dreary Monday night a humorous and welcoming evening full of good music. Although she is an established artist, she doesn’t take herself too seriously – and noticeably cringed onstage when fans were exclaiming their love for her, which was funny to see. 

Billie brought great music but an even better persona to engage the crowd – which is just as important as the songs. If you have a chance this week, make sure to head down to one of her shows to soak in the best of indie-folk.

Words: Amrit Virdi

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