Review: MarthaGunn – 26/09/19 – Riverside 2, Newcastle


On Thursday, 26th September, Brighton five-piece MarthaGunn brought their magnetic indie sounds to Newcastle for a headline show at Riverside 2…


The best thing about local gigs is that there is almost always at least one brilliant local support act to discover. This time it was Cova Castle (who by the way, sneaky plug, are playing a headline set at Think Tank on November 16th). Cova Castle look and sound like a true indie rock band. 

Their style is on point and so is their sound; at the same time infectious and heavy, even when cursed with not just one but two broken guitars. James Morrison once said ‘You can’t play on broken strings’, but Cova Castle are living proof that you can very much still play a rocking show on a guitar that has only five. 

Next up were electronic synth-pop trio AXLS. If you know that their music is inspired by science fiction and alien abductions, their performance makes a lot of sense and you will love every bit of it. If you don’t however, you’re not really prepared. Their sound is one that is clearly well thought out and you have to let yourself dive in to enjoy. Thursday’s gig was simply the wrong crowd. However, if my Geordie neighbours in the crowd were anything to go by, AXLS managed to win over a somewhat confused crowd by the end of their set. 

As it should be, the main event and the most impressive performance of the night came from headliners MarthaGunn. From the moment they walked on stage, they had the audience firm in their grasp. I’m pretty sure the audience fell silent for the first time that night when lead singer Abi Woodman started singing the opening verse to ‘Love and Emotion’. And for good reason. 

Her smooth, velvety voice is hard to resist; there’s something magnetic about the way she belts out every note with an air of quiet confidence. From the first song to the last, the five-piece brought tune after tune. Most of them are made for dancing with rhythms that even the band themselves were not immune to. They all had some pretty mean moves. 

MarthaGunn have an incredible band dynamic, they’re perfectly in sync. After years of playing together, it seems like they understand each other without words, every harmony is impeccably placed and executed. Naturally, as the lead singer, Abi gets all the credit, but she is backed by a highly talented band who all got to show off their beautiful voices in stripped back acoustic track ‘Ohio’. By far the most intimate moment of their set, ‘Ohio’ was the only song the band introduced by talking about its meaning: forgiveness. The song itself is a beautiful country ballad that reminds of Brandi Carlile in its vulnerability and emotive songwriting. 

Whether fast paced and fun or slow and emotional, MarthaGunn are a band that has nailed their live sound and performance. They will be more than able to hold their own on bigger stages and hopefully, they will be a festival essential in 2020.




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