June 11: An Evening With Billie Marten

Written by Anya Krzoska on June 30, 2023

The English singer songwriter Billie Marten recently stopped in Portland for a show. Arriving at the Mission Theater I will confess I was nervous how an artist like Billie, who is often best heard through headphones, would translate to a live showing. Fortunately my nervousness was quickly dismissed as the opener started.

Olivia Kaplan takes the stage and begins among the most beautiful opening sets I’ve ever heard. Her energy is comforting, her light, deep voice echoes in the theater making for a simultaneously isolating and entirely enveloping experience. It is warm and sad like the best days are, and I’m transported back to sitting in the back of a pickup truck and knowing that I will remember this moment. There was no better way to build anticipation for the main event.

As soon as Billie Marten hits the stage, the crowd erupts in cheers. She wastes no time in launching into her first song, and from that moment on, she is captivating. The backing band’s musicianship was outstanding, with each member showcasing their immense talent, especially for only being together six shows. As they approach the mid section of the show, she launches into Acid Tooth, and her soft guitar picking becomes her greatest advantage. Her soft smoky voice sails above the excellent guitar/bass harmonies for a beautiful goodbye to the band as she goes solo for a while.

One thing that shouldn’t go unmentioned is Billie’s ability to connect with a crowd. She is a mix of control, authenticity, anxiety, and joy that very few can pull off and sustain for an entire set. She effortlessly commands the stage, interacting with the audience and creating an intimate connection that made everyone feel like they were part of something truly special.

After the band departs, she begins playing the opening chords of Vanilla Baby, and the crowd erupts. Her soft smile as everyone starts singing the song with her is full of joy and we all smile with her. She has enraptured the crowd and it feels as if the entire audience is getting their own personal show. Her momentum continues with her incredible acoustic version of Like a Bird and before long the band is coming back out and the atmosphere changes.

As the band comes back the thumping drums finally seem to come into their own and they’re firing at full force. The audience is being pulled towards the end of the show at a fevered pace and they are enjoying every second of it. As we finally approach the end she plays La Luna. It is unimaginably pretty with such a reverent restraint allowing for Billie’s still soaring vocals to triumph over the sparseness and we have come full circle. The concert is over and we have all been on a beautiful ride.

Billie Marten and Olivia Kaplan delivered an extraordinary concert experience that surpassed all my expectations. From the stunningly gorgeous performance to the engaging and tender stage presence, every aspect of the show was meticulously crafted to create a truly unforgettable experience for the audience. This concert is a beautiful testament to Billie Marten’s immense talent and her ability to create magic on stage.





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