Norma Jean Martine @ Servant Jazz Quarters 11th January 2017

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Last November Norma Jean Martine announced she would be playing an unplugged show at the Servant Jazz Quarters. Now this show was a complete sell out (it actually sold out on the day tickets went on sale) resulting in Norma announcing a 2nd show on 8th February which promptly sold out.

Things kicked off at 8.30 with a stunning set by Oh Sister. My mind was literally blown, the tunes that they showcased were impeccable and Sarah Berresford’s sugary sweet vocals mesmerised me. Witnessing Oh Sister again is high up there on my to do list.

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An hour later it was time for the main act and Martine never fails to enchant me. This insatiable set compromised of 12 tunes, 9 of which were taken from the impeccable debut LP Only In My Mind. “My name’s Norma Jean Martine. Thanks everybody for coming tonight” Norma said to the intimate audience before opening with Animals. This was one hell of a tune and Martine literally knocked it out of the ball park. Her vocals were extremely husky and she delivered this number with plenty of gusto. Basically Animals had everything, the delivery was sensational and the infectious lyrics left me enthralled. “This next song I’ve never performed live before. Quite a lot of people ask me for it” Norma mentioned before diving into Angels On My Shoulders. I’m literally in love with this captivating cut, everything about it was spot on. Now Martine delivered this to perfection and those sumptuous lyrics left me completely enchanted. Plus it had me smiling from beginning to end. My highlight had to be the cute chorus “I believe in everlasting love/ And never getting older/ I believe there’s something else for us/ We got Angels On My Shoulders”. Following on it was then onto the albums title track. “It’s kind of about Wuthering Heights but it doesn’t matter” Norma said to the audience before getting stuck into Only In My Mind. Taking to the acoustic guitar, this whimsical cut was an contagious toe tapper. Only In My Mind focused on the topic of love and this number was delivered with plenty of gusto. Martine’s vocals were extremely raspy and those impeccable lyrics left me hooked “It’s Only In My Mind that I feel you/ It’s only in my dreams that your touch is real/ It’s only in my soul that I know that/ I can’t go there, I can’t go there”. After plenty of applause it was then time for the breathtaking With You. This chirpy song oozed plenty of soul and it left me grinning all throughout. Norma Jean Martine literally went full throttle and this laid back swooning number showcased her powerhouse vocals to perfection. Straight after it was then onto an Ed Harcourt tune which Norma Jean Martine re wrote. The song in question being Welcome Stranger and this was simply sensational. The lyrics were pure bliss and Martine’s succulent vocal tones left me hypnotised. Whenever I witness Norma perform this sublime track I always picture Ed Harcourt singing the chorus with her “You can be my Welcome Stranger/ You could be my second nature/ Take my hand and we can jump together/ Cos I’m not scared to love forever”.

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Straight after it was time for a glittering interpretation on a well known song.“So this song I want to dedicate to George Michael in heaven” Norma then said before delving into Freedom. Having been released in February 2016 this was the very first time I witnessed Norma perform her very own interpretation. George Michael’s passing on Christmas Day did come as a massive shock and I did have a suspicion that Martine would include it on her set list. Anyhow I fell for Norma’s version hook, line an sinker. The verses radiated plenty of attitude and the smooth chorus had everyone singing along. Martine then moved to the keyboard for the luscious I Want You To Want Me. This was a whimsical ballad which left me spellbound. Norma’s vocal tones were silky smooth leaving me completely captivated at the same time. Now this tune was faultlessly delivered and those delicious lyrics offered a beautiful narrative “Don’t wanna be left out in the cold again/ Need more than the love, I need a friend/ If I speak it all, it’s gonna be the truth/ I Want You To Want Me the way I want you”. Infused to the ending of I Want You To Want Me was the tantalising No More Alone. This again was a tasty ballad which had me hypnotised from the word go. Norma’s vocal tones were husky and rather crisp. This slow cut was so soothing and nearing the end Martine went full throttle.Whenever I hear this tune I always pick up on Regina Spektor vibes. Hang My Hat was so engrossing and it went down a treat. Hang My Hat was an infectious romp and the emotional lyrics made me picture a girl who has that feeling of emptiness and wants to feel loved even if only for a night “Don’t care if I never see you again/ Thinking maybe we could just pretend/ This is a fairytale with a happy end”. 

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“So this next song is my current single Still In Love With You. Has anyone seen the video? That was a fun video to make. You know the part with the train. That was really hard to do because it was by a road. So we had to cross the road while the train was coming. There was one intersection, the trains went where the traffic went. That was really hard to get but I’m glad we got it” Martine said before getting stuck into this magical number. When ever I hear Still In Love With With You I immediately think of Katy Perry’s In Another Life. Anyhow this number was incredible and Norma’s candy coated vocals left me in a dream like state. SILWY was a bewitching ballad with cute/ tender lyrics which dazzled me “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”. The evening then concluded with the phenomenal No Gold. This was an upbeat pop tune and Martine’s vocals were packed with a punch. The lyrics were outstanding and it can quite easily have you moving on the spot. 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”. Norma’s raspy vocals reminded me of Australian songstress Gabriella Cilmi.

Once over the band left the stage leaving Norma to wrap things up with I’m Still Here. Now Martine wrote this with the legend himself Mr Burt Bacharach. Norma’s smokey vocals were blissful and those sultry lyrics had left me entranced.

SET LIST

Animals
Angels On My Shoulders
Only In My Mind
With You
Welcome Stranger
Freedom
I Want You To Want Me
No More Alone
Hang My Hat
Still In Love With You
No Gold

ENCORE

I’m Still Here

OVERALL: This was one sensational evening witnessing music that I adore. Norma Jean Martine does have something rather special, for starters her vocal range is impeccable and secondly her songwriting skills are simply sublime. Her album Only In My Mind has been a long time coming and it’s nice to have it in my hands. Basically it’s a masterpiece and just witnessing these tunes live was quite something.

Nothing can fault the set list, yes the likes of Sons And Daughters and I Will Never Love Again were omitted. But these 2 songs were replaced with Angels On My Shoulders and I’m Still Here. Now I adore the debut record but Angels On My Shoulders edges it slightly when it comes to picking  favourite.

All in all this unplugged show was truly magical and I cannot wait until the day I see Norma Jean Martine perform again it London.

 

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