‘This is the first time I’ve headlined a gig’ said Martha Hill, beaming, as she readjusted the capo on her guitar. That might be true, but it won’t be the last. To headline suggests support, and that came in the form of Rob Heron’s mood enhancing records and the simply scintillating rhythmic guitar playing of Haythem, who you have to see to believe.
Delivering nihilistic comedic lines like Stewart Lee and gurning like Michael League (of Snarky Puppy) Haythem is a consummate performer. That’s enough about him though, because the Jazz Café’s cosy stage then welcomed Martha and her guitar. Now, I expected this to be good, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how good. Her voice is soft, not quiet, but warm and inviting, there’s a quality which seems to emit directly from the chest, definitely the heart, and which renders the listener with no choice but to smile. Her guitar imperceptibly compliments her carefully constructed lyrics, which are enhanced further when joined by the wonderful Ceitidh Mac on cello, but also a drum and some sweet vocals of her own harmonizing with Martha.
They played a folky, bluesy, poppy set including the title track of the new EP Blue Moon which had the boisterous sell-out crowd silently entranced, a cover of the White Stripes’ 7 Nation Army, and encored with a beautifully melancholy rendition of the aptly named folk song Geordie. Martha’s talent as a songwriter and song singer is undoubtedly her forte, and with original songs like Spiders, which was actually quite scary, I Can’t Go Home, written on the Holy Moly tour bus and Wanderlust Blues, which was as soulful as blues can get, there will be many more headline gigs, many more sold-out venues, and a blindingly bright future for this incredibly likeable and eminently gifted young lady.