Marika Hackman at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
The concert began with the Universal Studios’ introductory theme music, whilst a large black banner with Marika Hackman’s name in white lettering (accompanied by a fried egg) lowered itself above the musicians who were taking their places. This jaunty and amusing opening seemed rather out of place with regard to the music that followed, but it did suit Hackman’s easy-going stage personality.
The artist’s sound can be described as a driving, at times punky indie-rock with strong influences from Warpaint and Radiohead and the occasional slight echo of Nirvana. The first of these was definitely the most prevalent, and showed itself through the loose, informal rhythms coupled with harmonised vocals that floated above and were intertwined with the instrumentals. In Bath Is Black, this influence was perhaps the most easy to hear, although the format was more rigid, with alternating sections of a fast-paced, driving sound and more reflective and peaceful moments.
Despite the looseness, the playing was by no means unsynchronised, but very tight, well-rehearsed and with strong communication between the musicians. During the solos of the second number (Eastbound Train), for example, Hackman and the guitarist got so close their heads were touching! For the most part, however, the songs were fairly strict in their verse-chorus structure, and guitar solos, adorned with a satisfying amount of distortion pedal, featured more as brief moments of contemplation amongst the more involved and forceful majority. This standardised format also extended to the harmony, which was not adventurous, and remained comfortably within the four-chord pattern. Given the singer’’s style of music this was appropriate, but attempts were nonetheless made to make the underlying structures more interesting. The most successful of these, by virtue of it being the most noticeable, was the excellent drumming. Not only did it keep the whole band together, but – as in Deep Green and Gina’s World – it featured inventive fills, complex patterns and cross-rhythms that ran counter to the general beat of the music without disturbing it.
Overall, the concert was not hugely fulfilling: most of the songs sounded the same (an introduction of stick clicks and an abrupt, one-chord ending) and although the musicians were clearly enjoying themselves, their stage presence was not particularly commanding. Despite this, the audience in general certainly appreciated the material from the new album I’m Not Your Man, and enthusiastically cheered Hackman’s breathy, ambiguous lyrics to the end.
Photo: Marika Hackman’s Facebook
For further information and future events visit Marika Hackman’s website here
Watch the video for Violet here: