The Harrogate Club has a rich history dating back to 1857, when a group of Gentlemen agreed to establish a ‘Public Reading and News Room’. Once it had been located in the current grand Victorian building, it gained such luminaries as Titus Salt and Samson Fox.
The most striking architectural features of the building are without doubt the two great curved windows facing Victoria Avenue. It was within one such window that Billie Marten played an enchanting set, largely lifted from her recent debut album Writing of Blues and Yellows.
Being well known locally due to her Ripon origins, the venue was sold out to a wide mix of audience, young and old. Having just turned 18 herself, the album belies Marten’s youth to deliver tracks that are musically and lyrically mature.
Her live set was no different. The album intricately explores Marten’s openly discussed mental health and candid self-analysis. Opening track Live, Marten’s folk jazz infused voice accompanied only by acoustic guitar, is a gorgeous song for which the grand room and hushed audience provide the perfect foil. As her fanbase inevitably increases, so are the chances of someone called Emily being in the crowd, which would make Marten’s introduction to the track of the same name so much easier.
There are new songs on display, Cartoon People, tacitly written about Donald Trump’s relationship with his daughter, and The Party neatly sandwich album opener La Lune. After Lionhearted it was time to ‘bring the big guns out’, meaning that the guitar matched the atmosphere in the room and became electrified.
Cursive was the first in this section to be aired, a track off Marten’s 2015 As Long As EP, followed by another previously unreleased track Mice. The set closed with album stalwart and favourite Milk and Honey. Throughout Marten’s audience interaction was endearing and tender, her voice enchanting and the set delivered with such maturity and affection her upward trajectory is clear. The idea that one day in the future this set could be heard backed by strings is reason enough to follow Marten’s career.
History may have been established in this grand old building, but Billie Marten is at the forefront of writing a new musical history, one that will gain a similar longevity.
Supporting her set, Scott Quinn had, after apologising profusely for gain a recording and publishing deal and moving away from North Yorkshire to London, run through a strong seven song set, a voice and musical style reminiscent of George Michael and James Blake respectively. Opener I’m in Love dates back to a 2015 EP release and Quinn continued through Conform, Delicate and LA before arriving at a touching track written for a friend who had committed suicide Young. Set closer From Afar confirmed that the record deal is richly deserved.
Forget about history, in Billie Marten and Scott Quinn’s hands it’s the future that is bright.