It was March 2014 when I witnessed Norma Jean Martine for the very first time. Back at that show at the Concorde 2 in Brighton, Norma was supporting Lissie who I’ve been supporting for 6 years now. Anyhow the set by Martine completely captivated me, which then resulted myself in attending the shows at Birthdays in 2014 and then The Islington last year.
When Norma announced she was to play The Lexington I didn’t hesitate and purchased my ticket there and then. It came as no surprise that this show was a complete sell out because Norma Jean Martine has something special. The vocal range just literally blows you away whenever you witness her live. Originally from Middletown, New York Norma is now based in London. Other than being an ace singer she’s also an impeccable song writer.
It was around 9.40pm when Norma Jean Martine graced the stage before taking a seat at her keyboard. What made this different from the other shows I’ve attended was the fact that Martine had a band which made you hear the songs in a different perspective. Having glanced at the set list I saw that Martine was going to perform 11 songs. Originally 12 were listed but Animals had been crossed off despite being soundchecked. After the performance Norma told me that it was either that or Sons And Daughters, also the next time she performs live Martine will be recruiting a bass player.
The performance opened with Hang My Hat. One word for this cut would be hypnotising. Norma is literally a pro on the keyboard. This was a beautiful but emotional pop song with soothing storytelling lyrics which made me picture a girl who has that feeling of emptiness and just wants to feel loved even if only for a night. The lyrics were extremely infectious, my favourite part had to be the chorus “Don’t care if I never see you again/ Thinking maybe we could just pretend/ This is a fairytale with a happy end”. This song was delivered with plenty of gusto, Martine’s vocals were rather husky and on the whole this was an enchanting song. Straight after it was onto I Want You To Want Me. This was a gentle tune which left me captivated from the word go. It was delivered perfectly on the keyboard giving it that whimsical feel. This was packed with a punch, the lyrics were spot on “I want you to want me/ The way I want you” plus the whole band gave it that upbeat feel which had me moving on the spot. “So my name’s Norma Jean Martine for those that don’t know. I think alot of you know. This next song’s called No Gold. This is my next single. For real this time” Martine then mentioned before No Gold. For those who don’t know this song was released way back in 2014 but had no promotion whatsoever. There is a video on YouTube but it’s unofficial. This was an upbeat pop tune and Martine’s vocals were extremely strong. The lyrics were outstanding and it had me moving. I even was tempted to chant away during the ooooooooo bits. No Gold had been perfectly crafted and there was also one belting chorus. “Hell knows where I’m gonna land/ A small town girl no gold in my hands/ Gypsy I know you understand/ I’d die to be free no gold in my hands/ Sorry if you never ever see me again/ And I’m sorry if I never call/ Hell knows where I’m gonna land/ A small town girl/ No gold in my hands”. Martine’s raspy vocals reminded me of Australian songstress Gabriella Cilmi.
“We’re going to take it down a notch. I wrote this with Ed Harcourt” Norma said before the mesmerising Welcome Stranger. Now this cut was truly incredible. It may have been delivered at a smooth but steady pace but it was enough to leave me hooked. “You could be my Welcome Stranger/ You could be my second nature/ Take my hand and we’ll jump together/ Cos I’m not scared to love forever”. Anyhow this was a wonderful song with lyrics which were perfectly delivered. The band then took the backseat for Only In My Mind. This featured on the Animals EP and just witnessing it live was quite something. Only In My Mind saw Norma play the acoustic guitar which resulted in something really spellbinding. It was a upbeat rootsy bluesy tune with lyrics that had me tapping my toe.
Following on it was then time for the uplifting Sons And Daughters. For the final three songs of the evening Norma Jean had moved back to the keyboard. Now this cut was a fast paced blissful tune which oozed plenty of pop vibes. Other than the Norma’s startling vocal range you also had the other two members of the band harmonising. Everything about this was rather breathtaking. “Do we have any lovers in the audience?” Martine asked the audience said before getting stuck into sweet, emotional and chilled out No More Alone. This wondrous ballad was both slow and beautiful. It had a Regina Spektor vibe to it which is a fantastic thing as I love Regina. The game was really up when Martine ended with Game Over. This was a lovely way to end to such a perfect evening. Game Over was an upbeat toe tapping cut which I found to be rather catchy.
Once over the band and Norma left the stage only to return moments later as the whole audience were begging for more. “Thanks for having me back” Martine said before introducing Nick on guitar and Harry on the drums. It was time for With You which oozed plenty of soul and on the whole this was one extraordinary cut. Norma Jean Martine literally went full throttle and this laid back cut showcased her powerhouse vocals to perfection. Norma then teared up after she mention how she lost friends to addiction 2 weeks ago. Honestly seeing someone tearful sets me off as well and results with me having a lump in my throat. Well the tune in question being one I was witnessing for the very first time and this being I Will Never Love Again. I enjoyed the whole set but this had to be my favourite on the night. The reason being IWNLA was a soothing emotional ballad. The vocals were on point and you could tell that Norma put her heart and soul into delivering this tender ballad to perfection. This felt as if it was a personal song because the lyrics make you realise that this person that Martine lost from her life meant an awful lot to her. Things then came to an end with the Still In Love With You. “Don’t let me down” Martine then said referring to the fact she wanted the audience to join in. For some reason Katy Perry’s In Another Life sprung to mind. This was an entrancing beautiful ballad which was a tad slushy. It was delivered to perfection “They said we were too young/ To know if it was true love/ They couldn’t been more wrong/ I still love you, I’m still in love with you” and that was one lovely chorus and throughout this you could picture what was happening in your head.
Hang My Hat
I Want You To Want Me
Only In My Mind
Sons And Daughters
No More Alone
I Will Never Love Again
Still In Love With You
OVERALL: All in all Norma Jean Martine is a phenomenal singer and an outstanding songwriter. She may have not sang the Bruce Springsteen cover but seriously Martine was on fire, she went full throttle with the vocals which I found to be rather breathtaking.
Each tune showcased was superb but my highlights had to be Hang My Hat, Welcome Stranger and I Will Never Love Again.
The anticipation for the debut album is real, whilst no release date is out there Norma mentioned to me after the performance it would be out in the Fall. Also I must mention that releasing No Gold in April is a fantastic choice of single.