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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Martina Topley-Bird - Too Tough To Die

It's almost a decade since the world was introduced to the mesmerising voice of Martina Topley-Bird, and it was on Tricky's magnificent debut 'Maxinquaye' that she first got to shine.
Until now, her unusual name has always been closely associated with the trip hop innovator but at last she has struck out on her own. And to intensely rich and splendid effect.
Her first slice of solo brilliance, 'Quixotic', has been labelled "astonishing" and "essential" and has been short-listed for this year's Mercury Music Prize. A well deserved nomination it is too because this is an album that is likely to stand up as a timeless classic. Packed full of juke joint jazz, sumptuous soul and gritty beats, this record gives good indication as to the quality of the show about to be performed tonight.
Yet as soon as Martina takes to the stage and kicks off with the stunning harmonica and beatbox led 'Martina & Ben', it becomes clear that this is gonna be a truly transcendental experience. Better than even the most fruitful imagination could have possibly predicted. This is a woman that oozes star quality, not just in voice but in presence, and yet she stands there humbly, feet close together, like a young girl.
'Ragga' is the most Tricky-inspired song of the show (no surprise as he produced it). It lashes out with prickly percussion, while Martina's effortless drawl trickles like treacle over the top. It's hard to believe that this is only the fifth show that the band and her have played together. Next up is the hard hitting 'Too Tough To Die' - it's swampy blues guitar licks and tribal drumming get feet shuffling.
Just like the album, the set tonight is an eclectic mixture and soul-fuelled sounds and stark modern day ballads sit next to gutsy bass and funky scratching. The beautifully chilling 'Soul Food', featuring sampled strings by Bond composer David Arnold, is followed by the stomping rock onslaught of 'Need One'. Although both tracks are very different, they have the same magical Topley-Bird hallmark stamped all over them.
Finally we're treated to a stunning rendition of her new single 'Anything', a sensuous striped down ode and the beautifully aching 'Lullaby' leaves us all to catch our breath. Rarely does a singer captivate the heart and soul quite like this lady can. If Billie Holiday were still alive she'd be looking over her shoulder for Martina.


Martina Topley-Bird - London Scala 22-07-03


SOURCEFMSOUND QUALITYA FORMATMp3 BITRATE256 TRACKS #10 
LOCATION / VENUELondonScala DATE22-07-03
NOTES: another Xfm live hour vintage broadcast

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3 Comments:

Blogger tbowler said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:46 PM  
Blogger tbowler said...

what a great show - thanks for posting it.

i'm confused about the setlist though. i can't identify tracks 5 and 7. the others, in order, are

1. Need One
2. Martina & Ben
3. Soul Food
4. Too Tough to Die
5. ???
6. Days of a Gun (she names it thus)
7. ???
8. Lying
9. I Wanna Be There

2:55 PM  
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7:49 AM  

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