Live review: Isaac Gracie / Billie Marten at Falmouth AMATA 24 November 2018

There’s only a handful of gigs being played down here in Cornwall and one of the best gig locations surely is the Academy of Music and Theatre Arts (AMATA) at Falmouth University. Tonight it is host to a singer-songwriter night with Isaac Gracie and support act Billie Marten.

Billie Marten, 19-year old singer-songwriter from North Yorkshire, appears on stage with her black guitar, accompanied by her percussionist, and with a voice so fragile and soft that the audience is magically enchanted from the first note she sings. “We went to St Agnes today and got some rocks and shells”, she tells us between two songs — which makes me smile, because that’s literally the number one past time activity in Cornwall.

Billie Marten playing at AMATA in Falmouth, Cornwall, 24 November 2018. Copyright ©fromwavestograves.

Somehow Billie manages to sound like a lovely old vinyl record, because she’s got that special crackling in her voice and in the way she sings the words. Hearing her sing makes you feel all warm and cozy, and all I’m missing right now is sitting in a wooden cabin with a nice little fire going drinking hot chocolate. After Billie’s gig I hear someone say: “Oh, she’s just stunning, isn’t she?”

And I wonder: Is it okay to cry at a gig?

After having played Manchester, Leeds and Exeter on his current close up – looking down tour, Isaac Gracie is playing in Cornwall for the first time and is chuffed to be here.  Gracie’s gig is preluded by the Mr Bean theme tune — what a classic — before he and his band open up with a banger: Loud guitars and crashing drums, Gracie wearing a denim outfit with a jacket he soon strips off because it is just too hot (it really was), to show a bright pink t-shirt, asking: “Is my shirt suitably pink?” The answer would most likely be YES, but it really isn’t about the looks when you just get so distracted by that VOICE! Gracie’s voice is so powerful, so raw and rough and yet so calm and emotional. If you’ve never seen him playing live, you’d probably put him into the mellow singer-songwriter category and he sure does sing the nicest ballads, but he certainly is a rocker, too. His stage presence is spot-on, we’re hanging on his every word. Cutting your finger on your guitar strings after the first two songs and yet moving on through the whole set? Come on, that’s quite punk rock.

Isaac Gracie playing at AMATA in Falmouth, Cornwall, 24 November 2018. Copyright ©fromwavestograves.

When Gracie sings: “Why did we break down? Was I too vulnerable? I gave you everything”, I’m standing here thinking: Is it okay to cry at a gig when someone puts so many raw emotions into his words? Gracie’s songs are so personal and intimate that you almost feel like you shouldn’t be entitled to hearing them. It’s like opening up someone’s diary and reading all their deepest secrets, and the way Gracie is singing them out loud is as if he is fully reliving all those moments and all those emotions he’s felt in the past all over again whilst standing on stage.

Let’s end this with some punk rock

The set comes to an end with Since The Death Of You and I which has got everything from tango to punk rock in it — and WHAT A FINALE that is! A two-song encore follows — Last Words and Reverie, both much loved songs and Gracie is supported by a good 200 voices in the audience singing along.

It surely won’t take long until we’ll see Isaac Gracie on much bigger stages around the country as well as internationally. For now, I’m happy I can say I’ve been there when Isaac Gracie played in Cornwall.

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