The Martin-Andrews house in California must be an entertaining place to be a fly-on-the-wall. On one couch you have Ken Andrews, a celebrated multi-instrumentalist producer/frontman/solo artist, and next to him, his improbably gorgeous, opera-trained, former Miss Teen USA contestant, piano-pounding wonder of a wife, Charlotte Martin.

You can imagine the excitement that erupted between the two of them (and among their legions of loyal fans) when the concept for the Never Say Never tour was born, plotted and put into action. This dynamic duo would take the country by storm together, and release new albums available exclusively on the tour; Andrews with a live album recorded during his Spring 2007 tour for Secrets of the Lost Satellite (his first official solo effort), and Martin with an all covers record, Reproductions.

Add to the mix the tireless lads of San Diego’s First Wave Hello, who would anchor the trek as both opening act, and Andrews’ backing band, and what you’ve got is one of the more satisfying and musically diverse package deals on the road this fall.

The diversity between the crowds Andrews and Martin attract was really something to behold. It’s quite funny to watch the female singer-songwriter loving crowd mix it up with bellowing hard rock fans who cannot get enough of old Failure tunes. Nevertheless, these two widely divergent audiences made it work, and gave loud, passionate love to both performers respectfully, and equally.

Andrews took to the stage first, dapper in a black jacket and blue dress shirt, opening with a smooth “Allergic” from Satellite and ripping into “Does Anybody Know?” and an effortlessly cool, electro-tinged “Secret Things,” (one of the best and choicest cuts off of Satellite).

Several songs in, Andrews asked the crowd if there were any Year of the Rabbit and Failure fans in attendance, which of course elicited loud affirmations, and then gave way to a stunning “Lie Down” and stomping, dirty “Undone.” Unsurprisingly, the Failure fans begged for more (again, loudly) and Andrews gave them “Sergeant Politeness,” off of the band’s landmark 1996 release, Fantastic Planet. “Stuck on You” would finish the set, leaving both hero and audience breathless.

Just a short while later, Martin would take to her keyboard in a sexy, sparkling blue dress, giggling and waving to her fans. Kicking things off with her take on Massive Attack’s “Angel,” and “Limits of our Love” from 2004 On Your Shore, which really got the girls screaming, I couldn’t help but wonder how is this chick not at KT Tunstall levels of huge.

Martin’s intensity and lust-worthy pipes never faltered, even through tricky, demanding cuts like “Cut the Cord” and the vocal acrobatics of “Veins.” An electronic, bass-heavy remake of a personal favorite song by Sinéad O’Connor, “I am Stretched on Your Grave,” made me love Martin, however, for the simple fact that she took a classic (well, classic if you know O’Connor canon) and made it a stunning, empowering march; a direction I never imagined that particular tune could take.

“Keep Me in Your Pocket,” skippy, peppy and just plain awesome, was clearly the highlight of the set for the singing audience, and for Martin who showed immense bravado and brought down the house with a nasty jam session. Two additional tracks off of Reproductions made an appearance, a courageous cover of Tim Buckley’s mournful “Song to the Siren,” which became almost country in vibe, and a self-assured take on Interpol’s “Obstacle 1,” which was introduced by Martin claiming, “I love covering boys because I wish I had a penis!”

After the close of her set, Martin prepared the crowd for she and Andrews’ “Donnie and Marie” act, which would give the exhausted, hyped-up crowd Failure’s “The Nurse Who Loved Me,” and Martin’s “Stromata.”

Afterwards, the happy couple adjourned to “MerchWorld” to greet their fans eye-to-eye, signing CDs, old memorabilia and giving hugs. A class act, these two. One can only hope that they are a rule, not an exception, but even if they are, nothing can replace that kindness and connection. –Carrie Alison, Photos by Carrie Alison

 
  1. Charlotte Martin kicks ass over K.T. anytime! We have been fans of Char ever since seeing her open for Liz Phair back on the Chicks With An Attitide concert. It was the first time we saw her, and I remember telling Heidi after the show, the “chick” is going to be huge someday. I hope that evolves. Thanks for the great review and pics!

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  2. Great review. I am a long-time fan of Charlotte Martin and am glad to see her getting some good promotion. I don’t have “Reproductions” yet, but I love what I’ve heard through various outlets (myspace, Ben Lee podcast, and youtube videos). I liked what you said about the cover of the O’Connor song, I love that song as well and she really did turn it into an empowering chant of sorts–I also LOVE the cover of the Interpol song and can’t wait to get my hands on the album so that I can hear “Urge for Going,” her cover of one of my favorite Joni Mitchell songs.

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  3. You’re spot-on about the diverse audience. The Dinosaur Fight Records “dynamic duo” was absolutely amazing — (I caught the show in Chicago). I think some Ken fans got into CharMar’s jams, and vice-versa. Thanks for a great review of the NYC show, and the awesome pics!

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