Saturday June 11, 2005 Charlotte Martin. The Point- Bryn Mawr, PA. Here's the thing. Charlotte Martin has it. Whatever it is, you know it when you see it- that edge, that streak in the eye, an unwillingness to go quickly or easily. At the Point on Saturday night, Martin breathed light into a waning, sweaty, Philly evening. Armed with just a piano (and the accompaniment of guitarist Ken Andrews on two tracks), and her full emotional palette, Martin stunned a sold out crowd with everything from very old tracks, brand new/ unreleased ones. and a few reinvented covers to balance the mix. Perhaps the only thing she did not perform were any tracks from the ep she was touring to support, if there is any irony in that.
Martin's set was consistently stunning. Highlights from the On Your Shore release were the stripped-down version of Limits Of Our Love and the emotive Everytime It Rains. Her piano work was spot on throughout the set and tracks like Madman and Steel really showcased her intricate fingerwork. Tracks from her forthcoming (2006) CD such as Keep Me In Your Pocket leaned towards a more rhythmic texture, with the looping electronics and clapping hands lending structure. Her choice of covers, The Stones' Wild Horses (sublime, and more aggressive than her studio version), and Pearl Jam's Elderly Woman Behind the Counter In A Small Town (alternately glistening and ferocious) were powerful beacons in a rousing 80 minute set.
What I most noticed most about Martin, that I haven't seen in an artist in some time, is her ability to be completely inside a song as she performs it. Whether it be the rage in her eye, and soft intonation, or a thundering hand across the piano, she is clearly connected to the music, and her emotional range is every bit a wide as her musical range. In the middle of Beautfiul Life, Martin stopped cold, clearly overwhelmed by the track, tears in her eyes as she centered herself and pressed through.
Sublime and elemental. And not to be missed.