On Thursday 3rd March, Christina Martin took over Leeds’ Milo Bar to kick off her U.K. tour in support of her latest release, It’ll Be Alright. I was first drawn to Martin’s music a few weeks ago, but was unsure of what to expect from her live gig. It turns out that Martin’s performance style involves a lot less smoke and mirrors, and a lot more personality and connection with the audience. By the time I got to Milo Bar at 8pm, Martin was in the process of setting up her stage and running through sound check with producer Dale Murray, giving early attendees a sneak peek at what to expect during the night. The quick, informal run-through of one of her songs was enough to mesmerise the audience and get everyone excited for what was to come.
Throughout the intimate, 2-hour long gig Martin treated fans to a mix of old and new songs, starting with a performance of ‘Take Me Back in a Dream’ from her latest album. By the time she was onto her third song ‘Guard Your Heart’ from 2008’s Two Hearts, I felt swept into Martin’s performance. With every heartfelt song, Martin’s voice and guitars filled the bar. I often found myself thinking that she was meant to play larger venues, so her sound could takeover the space without feeling overpowering. Her haunting vocals and Murray’s backing during ‘I’ve Got a Gun’ were a personal favourite of mine, and I felt chills while listening to the performance. After a brief intermission, Martin gave an emotion-filled performance of ‘Lines’, making it the perfect way to start the second half of the gig.
Martin embraced the intimate setting of the gig and used it as a way to connect with the audience, which was made up of long-time fans and new listeners. Martin shared stories about being on tour, song inspirations, and personal anecdotes. She spoke one-on-one with fans every chance she could, even striking up conversations in-between songs. Martin’s natural charisma, which is found in the best performers, and her connection with the audience leave a lasting impression. Combined with her incredible voice and stage presence, Martin has all the right elements to hold her own and put on a successful show.
To end the night, Martin performed an unplugged version of her song ‘Things You Can’t Tell By Looking Her Way’, while sitting on the bar. The incredible performance not only delighted the audience, but showed just how powerful her voice is even without the use of a mic. By the end of the night, I liked Martin’s music even more than before. Listening to her perform the songs in this setting, stripping away the frills of the studio tracks, is where she shines.
All in all, Martin’s gig was the perfect way to spend the night. While I hope this will not be my last time attending one of her show, if it is, I can say that it was truly a show to remember.
Words: Karishma Karia
Photo: Karen Xu