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LIVE: Savage Mansion / Martha Ffion – The Crescent, York, 22/02/2024

Formed in 2013 on the Scottish Hebridean Isle of Eigg by the inimitable Johnny Lynch, Lost Map Records has become something of a byword for fierce musical independence. In fact, Lynch was only here at the end of January as part of Independent Venue Week when he supported his fellow countryman Steve Mason. Now it’s the turn of yet more Scots folks to descend upon the Crescent, this time in the form of two other superb acts from the most estimable Lost Maps’ roster, as Glaswegian five-piece Savage Mansion and the Glasgow-based Irish musician Martha Ffion prepare to play here.

Martha Ffion is no stranger to this neck of the woods having appeared in the city’s Basement venue back in May 2016. At that nascent stage of her recording career, she had only produced one single – ‘No Applause’ from the previous year – but since then Ffion has gone on to release three full-length albums (four if we include the 2021 offering Captured On Cassette, which comprises a number of live recordings and bedroom demos). Her most recent album is last year’s The Wringer, several of whose songs are featured here tonight.

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Martha Ffion

Speaking to me before taking to the stage – well, the area directly in front of the stage – Martha Ffion has a twinkle in her eye when she assures me that she is now much better than the last time she played in York nearly eight years ago. And whilst that show wasn’t half bad, you know what, she is absolutely right in her assertion. Her grasp of melody and harmonic construction has clearly developed in the interim, as has the manner in which she delivers her songs.

Martha Ffion is backed this evening by three members of Savage Mansion – Craig Angus (guitar), Andrew Macpherson (bass), and Lewis Orr (drums) – highlighting the strength of the Lost Map communal spirit. This tour is all about sharing, be it transport, band members, or memories. Together the four musicians perform nine songs in total creating a delicate balance between beauty and power, evidenced no more so than on the respective merits of The Wringer’s title track – where Ffion moves from guitar to piano – and the insistent throttle of ‘The Man.’

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Savage Mansion

The three men duly return shortly thereafter, this time to be joined by their fellow Savage Mansion band members, Jamie Dubber –  who takes over on bass thus allowing Macpherson to return to his more customary guitar duties – and Adam Forbes on keys. They up Martha Ffion’s ante by tearing through no less than 19 songs in just a little over an hour, each one a muscular, melodic jewel with a sweetly seductive twist in the tail.

Savage Mansion’s fourth album, The Shakes came out only last week as part of Lost Map’s highly imaginative PostMap Club subscription service and all bar one of its 11 tracks are given noble representation here tonight. The live energy that is captured on the record is replicated in concert before being ratcheted up even further. By the time Savage Mansion reach towards the show’s zenith with the triple fusillade of ‘Night School’, ‘The Second Life’, and ‘Myths Persist’ from the new album, they are flying. It is a glorious fusion of post-punk, indie, funk, pop, and an occasional nice little nod towards country that crosses genre borders with freedom and creative abandon, much like the band’s record label itself, in fact.

Photos: Simon Godley

More photos of Martha Ffion at The Crescent

And some more photos of Savage Mansion at The Crescent

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.