I hadn’t been to The Jazz Café before, so I was glad for an excuse to have a wander down pink lane after work on December 15th for Martha Hill’s ‘Blue Moon’ single launch.
I first found out about Martha Hill after seeing her busk over the summer of 2015 around the monument, where we would turn down the jukebox at work to listen to her. You’ll have heard her already if you don’t recognise the name (which I would be surprised at, given her current momentum). She holds a ridiculously strong, beautiful, resonating voice, which you’ve probably noticed from Northumberland Street; the type of busking that makes everyone queuing for a Gregg's pasty, stare, mouths open. That lass is right good. And of course, because it’s Newcastle and everyone knows everyone, I once ended up back at Martha’s house with some other stragglers after her performance with Holy Moly and the Crackers at the Cluny, in which she gave the room an a cappella performance and made me a mug of tea. So from the get go, I knew she was pretty sound egg.
I arrived early, and after selecting a bottle of pale ale I snuck upstairs to find Martha, and was taken aback to find an empty, gorgeous, intimate venue which smelt of tangerines. It can really only be described as a fairy cave, with tiny lights delicately strung up against the walls, and spindly wooden chairs and tables dotted across the room. I basked in the cosy glow as I huddled in the corner, hungover, post retail fatigue with my pencil that has the times tables up to ten printed on the side which I’m unnecessarily proud of, ready to take notes. I spoke to the barman to find out any gossip, but unfortunately he was very lovely and didn’t have any, and instead just told me about how he’d been having dreams about being at work and pulling pints. Anyway. I digress.
Slowly everyone arrived until the room was full, half recognising each other as people dribbled in until the room was brimming. Maybe it was because I was hungover, or because I already knew Martha, but it really was a gorgeous atmosphere. It felt like a family, it was wholesome, exciting.
First up supporting Martha Hill was Haythem. I’d heard his name flickering around as he also does some work for Alphabetti Theatre (isn’t Newcastle just a glorious crucible of creativity and good eggs?) and was taken aback by this unassuming lad creating the most incredible sounds, offset by his dry humour and sarcastic commentary. You want to just bask in the glitter of this music, enveloped in how fucking good he is. I think it would be dangerous to compare him to anything, as nothing would really do his work justice.
Unassuming, effortless and quick to smile, her raw voice is welcoming, electric; full of warmth and control.
Then came Martha. Unassuming, effortless and quick to smile, her raw voice is welcoming, electric; full of warmth and control. It was a beautiful set up; as a singer-songwriter her originals were well paced, and ultimately, very human, distinct and recognisable. It comes from the heart.
I want to make a blue moon washing away the blues joke but it doesn’t sit right. It was so fucking gorgeous. We were captivated and let the sounds wash over us, transfixed. The lad that came with me sent me a message the next day to say thanks for the invite, it was “great, inspiring and humbling”. Martha Hill is undoubtedly one to watch.
If you’ve been inspired to go and see the enigmatic Martha Hill yourself, and kicking yourself for missing out on the single launch, head to The Cumberland Arms on the 18th February.
Jacob Zoob Photography.