On Saturday, the truly first warm day of Spring, Billie Marten and her support Léa Sen brought some wistful melancholy to the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds.
Review and photos by Graeme Smith
There’s just something about The Brudenell that, despite it being in the middle of suburban Leeds, draws the crowds. It’s a destination, and caters to music fan of all kinds. On the same night that Billie Marten was penned to play, so was Letz Zep, a Led Zepellin tribute act, in the other room. It goes to show that diversity of audience is the key to survival.
A mostly young crowd had gathered for Billie, likely students, though there were some long-time followers of hers too. The man behind me in the queue to get in had been watching her since her beginnings, and had just caught her in Hebden Bridge. It helped that she’s a local lass, originally hailing from Ripon.
Though the audience were there for Billie, they certainly gave Léa Sen a warm reception. Originally from France, Léa lives in London and delivers a similarly delicate and melancholic singer-songwriter style to Billie. In fact, she confessed to being a fan, citing tonight’s lead as one of her inspirations to get into music. There’s a rough and ready rendition of Billie’s track Bird out there from the start of her career.
There was nothing rough and ready about her performance on the night. You could hear a pin drop as she delivered her emotional set full of heartbreak and empowering messages. She’s going to do well, Léa. Last night was her first trip to Leeds but I can’t imagine it will be her last.
This tour is in support of Billie’s new album Drop Cherries. Billie performed with a band consisting of guitar, violin, bass and drums and there’s was a richness and warmth to their performance of her latest tracks. There were one or two touches of psychedelia too, and I think it’s a welcome addition to her sound.
I saw Billie at the Brudenell last year too and she’s clearly at home at the venue. They know how to put on a good night there. In her banter, she said that the original planned Leeds venue was going to be Stylus, but she over-ruled the decision for the place that always welcomes her with open arms and ears. I can’t say I blame her. Last night was another cracker.
Léa Sen and Billie Marten played at the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds on Saturday 20 May 2023.