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Gig Review – Billie Marten (2nd December 2023, Hangar 34)

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Billie Marten

It’s half past seven on a baltic Saturday evening in December, but one of my favourite singer-songwriters is heading to Hangar 34 in Liverpool and therefore so am I. The inimitable Billie Marten takes to the stage for the first night of her headline winter tour, returning to perform in the UK straight off the back of supporting Half Moon Run on their North American run. With that line-up, I was seriously considering making the trip across the pond. 

At the risk of stating the obvious, I’ve wanted to see Marten live for a while now. Her latest album, Drop Cherries, is one of my favourites of this year. To me, it’s indie folk (allow the huge generalisation for now) at its best – dreamlike, lyrically brilliant and full of stunning instrumentation. And all of this translates into a flawless live performance. 

After making her way onto stage, Marten introduces herself to the Liverpool crowd and manages to get them to sway in unison to one of her opening tracks. The setlist appears to mainly be made up of songs from her most recent endeavour, with a few older ones thrown in for good measure. I’d already been imagining how stunning ‘This Is How We Move’ and ‘Willow’ would be live at least a month before the actual gig (the real things were, of course, even better), but ‘Mice’, ‘Nothing But Mine’ and ‘Just Us’ also stood out to me on the night. 

At around the halfway mark, her band leaves the stage and Marten continues on alone. Her vocals are unbelievable. She chooses to play some new material, including a track that was written only a few weeks ago. It seems that there is no end in sight for Billie Marten and her songwriting just yet – and this makes me very happy. 

Her band soon returns, with support act Clara Mann in tow, and they decide to try something new – everyone stands around a single microphone in the middle of the stage. They only play one track in this way and it is phenomenal. The moment ends and the audience at Hangar 34 erupts into cheers and applause. 

Just before ten o’clock, Marten and her band exit stage right and the audience demands ‘one more song’ – but we get two. The first track ends and I find myself thinking ‘the only thing that could make this better is if she plays “I Can’t Get My Head Around You”’ as the drums kick in. Two people standing near me immediately turn to look at each other and their faces break into huge grins; I couldn’t have summed it up better myself. I’ve had this song on repeat ever since I first listened to Drop Cherries and I’m more convinced every time round that it has to be one of my Desert Island Discs. 3 minutes and 26 seconds is not enough. 

If there’s one thing I ‘can’t get my head around’ after that gig, it’s just how good Billie Marten is live. 

 

Review by: Ayla Hewitt

Images credit: Ayla Hewitt

Follow Ayla on Insta@aylagoestogigs   @aylaratesalbums  

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