Outside it's cold, very cold. Maybe this explains why by the time Martha Tilston comes on stage, the seats in Norwich Arts Centre have only just filled up.
It's a shame it's quiet because frankly she is stunning. Previously, Martha played in a duo called Mouse but now she has gone out on her own and tonight she is joined by a bass player.
Her first album, Bimbling, was released a few weeks ago and we get a selection from this album plus a Mouse song and a couple of traditional folk songs.
She has probably the purest voice I have heard and at times it sent shivers up and down my spine.
|Martha Tilston was magical in Norwich|
In between songs she is charming and funny but never in your face and this gives her performance a very personal feel.
The highlight, however, comes during her rendition of one her old Mouse songs when she begins to sing Portishead's Sour Times and it is breathtaking. Amazing.
Following her magical performance, Hem were always going to struggle. Hailing from New York, they play their own brand of Americana-laden folk which also has twinges of country.
In stark contrast to Martha, there are seven of them on stage, playing a range of instruments from double bass to glockenspiel and it feels a little crowded.
They sound like a country Carpenters and never really break out of the 'nice' bracket.
They are very good musicians but lack the something special that makes Martha sparkle.
Still the audience lap them up as they play a selection from both their albums, Rabbit Songs and Eveningland.
By the end of the evening no-one leaves disappointed but some of us leave a little bored.
- Hem and Martha Tilston played at Norwich Arts Centre on Monday 28 February 2005.