On a busy night at the Sebright Arms, we wandered down into the basement where Alice Barlow and her band started the night’s proceedings. Alice was a very engaging artist and the crowd hung on her every note, especially during her solo number, This Love. Her set was not all ‘serious’ as we are given a few laughs when she introduced the band and exclaimed ‘we are Alice Barlow! Well, I am but these guys have other names.” A stunning opening to the night.
The Sebright Arms has quite a buzz for live music and we were feeling the heat and the atmosphere by the time Martha Ffion and her band The Homemakers took to the stage just before 10pm. Seemingly a late time for a gig but those that made it down this Friday night would have been there whatever time.
Martha and The Homemakers first came to the music scene some time in 2014 and have so far done a few mini-tours, spreading her music across the country. But it was this tour that brought us her first and eagerly-anticipated EP entitled Trip (on vinyl and streaming sites only at the moment).
We were welcomed with the last song on the new EP, School Nurse, with its soothing sound that was pleasingly heavy on the guitars, leading brilliantly into the more soulful 60’s-pop sounding Wallflower. New songs including Real Love made the set and displayed how far Martha has come with her sound. It follows the same vibes as her early work and with her name becoming more recognised, it is refreshing that she is sticking with this classic, dare I say, Phil Spector-ish sound, but with her and The Homemakers’ own take on it. It is not only refreshing to hear but also to see performed live.
For the regular Martha Ffion gig-goer/listener, we had her mini back-catalogue to guide us through the rest of the set, with Sugarcoat, So Long and Lead Balloon smoothly leading into the next but biggest surprise of the set, the stunning delivery of No Applause. Sebright Arms was my fourth time witnessing Martha live. It was also the fourth time I have seen her performance of No Applause too, but tonight something grabbed me. It was punchier. It was rockier. It was intense. This version of No Applause, and essentially the way this set was delivered, may just have been the best I have seen Martha Ffion, and I don’t doubt that she will be even better next time.
Words & Image by Victoria Ling