Martha Wainwright at Student Central
Natural and free, spontaneous and rebellious, witty and honest, the extraordinary Martha Wainwright charmed last night at Student Central as we were treated to an extra-long set amid a guileless verbal repertoire. Her joyful band, comprised of back-up singer, guitarist, drummer and keyboardist, formed a congenial group with stellar accompaniment. Superb on acoustic, Martha was real and quirky, like a contemporary Janis Joplin, with her intriguing lyrics and amazing voice. Her style is unique, while also evoking Annie Lennox, KD Lang, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, even Blondie, among others.
She opened with the classic I am Woman, then, from her new album Goodnight City, Around the Bend followed with its romantic, quasi-country tone – the highly creative track displaying Wainwright’s eclectic vocal range. Bleeding All Over You – distinctly country, and a bit of Dolly Parton combined with Annie Lennox – was followed by the intriguing, ethereal, Gallic-sounding Look Into My Eyes, with its dramatic keyboard and sensual alternating French lyrics. Year of the Dragon was a graceful, romantic folk-style ballad highlighting again the artist’s vocal versatility and her passionate delivery. The winsome GPT, the gentle and melodic These Flowers, and the rousing Ball & Chain are from her 2005 record, Martha Wainwright. Far Away – another lovely ballad with a hint of European panache – preceded the favourite Francis, a theatrical-sounding piece with a dash of Bette Midler. Singing Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel No 2, Wainwright transported us to 23rd Street in New York City. The feminine, softly sung When the Day is Short and the radiant, beautiful Factory delighted the adoring crowd.
The innovative Window had a cutting-edge sound. The 20th number in the set, So Down, was distinctly Blondie-esque with its post-punk driving vivacity. Finally, as an encore the artist returned for a solo with the feminist Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole, which is quintessential brilliant Wainwright but with a nod to Bob Dylan.
The highly talented singer-songwriter clearly completely puts herself out there, gives her all to her art and to us. She has a veracity and passion that is palpable – she appears at times to be enraptured with her guitar in amorous embrace and symbiosis. She holds nothing back, says what she feels, is what she is. With a disarming appeal, she is very funny, and with her remarkable voice, her soulful music is mesmerising and stunning.
Photos: Nick Bennett
For further information and future events visit the Martha Wainwright website here.
Watch the video for Around the Bend here: