Martha Wainwright at Rough Trade East
Martha Wainwright is a Canadian singer-songwriter whose sounds dabble in both folk-rock and synth pop. She was in Brick Lane, London last night to promote her new album, Goodnight City, and fans were overjoyed to see her live at the open show and signing event.
As soon as she walked out onto the stage, one could tell Wainwright was a perfect fit for the very casual setup. Rough Trade is a truly unique venue, an old-school record store, which also sells books and has a stage at the back for live gigs. Opening with Around the Bend, the artist showcased an impressive vocal range and hit some piercing high notes.
Because of the small and intimate setting, the performance needed to be both minimalist and gripping, something the singer achieved with just her lungs and her guitar. Wainwright’s strong vocals did more than enough to hold the crowd, and anyone else on the stage would have been too overpowering.
The concert-goers stood motionless and silent, however, this did not mean the soloist failed to create an atmosphere, but actually quite the opposite. The audience were simply hypnotised by her music, not feeling the need to join in on songs or to dance, but happy just listening to the performance being given to them.
Not only is Wainwright a singer, but also a terrific storyteller. She introduced each of her numbers by telling us a little bit of what they were about. Two tracks were about her sons, Franci and Window, and another called Traveller about a friend who died of cancer, who she liked to think wasn’t dead but just “travelling around”. Listening to these personal and emotionally resonant songs was like reading someone’s diary: they were both intimate and intriguing.
Although she couldn’t remember the words to some of her tracks and had to restart multiple times to get her chords right, Wainwright did so with a free-spirited charm and almost got away with it. Hers was a very human performance and songs like Before the Children Came Along served to emphasise this. The occasional blunders further hammered home the friendly, unorganised charm of this artist.
For further information about Martha Wainwright and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Around the Bend here: