The debut York performance of Canada’s Christina Martin, tonight with Producer/Husband Dale Murray on guitar, has been a long time coming, but it’s worth the wait. Tonight she’s the support, later in the tour with her UK band the roles are reversed. It’s a hell of a support. She plays a mix of stuff from a forthcoming “fall” album, her critically acclaimed ‘It’ll Be Alright’ and older stuff – what my boy calls her “brown hair period”. The Basement’s subterranean feeling is a great spot for an intimate gig like this, punters and performers shunted together and Martin feeds on this.
I adore Martin’s trembling vibrato and rough tough rocker sensibility, a modern feisty Joan Jett, she looks cool, acts cool, sings cool – a proper rockstar. She can break your heart in an instant and make you wig out the next, and as a passionate advocate on mental health her latest single, Lungs are Burning, a very Fleetwood Mac feeling record, can be given extra poignancy in a venue like this. Murray is a fully fledged axe god too, an old school guitar hero, schooled on AC DC and UK indie, together they are just great.
She might just be backed by mandolin and double bass but Annie Keating’s just as rocking, energetic and up tempo. It’s really lovely to see performances without nerves, no striving to be understood, just to come and have a good time. Keating is a woman, enjoying, no, revelling in her art. Belmont, about learning the guitar at 12, and her “Daddy not understanding why she wanted to play guitar”, is revelatory, and is a glimpse into her world. At times there is a JJ Cale feel to the set, and Foxes, written about her previous experiences in the UK really has her band cooking – in fact throughout they really shine, not adverse to some old school rockabilly. Tonight you could be here or at Glastonbury watching Ed Sheeran. There really is no choice.