Marika Hackman delivers soulful solos and anthemic ensemble tunes at the Forum
Opening with the X-Files soundtrack gave the crowd a stark insight into Marika Hackman’s ethereal yet equally tongue-in-cheek persona. With three strong records to draw on, her extensive set last night at the Kentish Town Forum was a delightful dive into her all her sardonic, sorrowful depths, full of equal delicacy and derision.
Alongside her boilersuit-clad band, her performance was testament to her persistent relevance amongst a legion of acoustically twee comparisons. Instead, Hackman is defined by the ever-present raw edge of her songs, a sombre indie aesthetic that swaps universal tropes for deeply personal reflections. Hugely entertaining renditions of Boyfriend and Before I Sleep gave the mainly measured band the opportunity to let loose, strobes and all.
However, confronted with her catalogue, two versions of Hackman emerge on stage: the solo artist, represented by 2015’s We Slept at Last, and the riotous ensemble that backs her on her latter records. These more involved numbers seemed awkwardly undone by the pacing of the gig: typically anthemic yet sombre ballads like I’m Not Where You Are clashed with the profound intimacy of solo performances. Bathed in a lavender haze, Drown and Wanderlust punctured the cavernous hall with sincere emotion spread across six strings, much more so than any of the uptempo sad-dance tracks like Blow.
However, the true highlight of the show was Hackman’s surprise cover of Elliott Smith’s tragically bleak Between the Bars. Perfectly suited to her confessional tone and poetic poise, it transfixed the crowd, a brief yet totally hypnotic interlude.
While the adolescent, splattered banner which dominated the stage suggested a youthful indifference, everything about Hackman’s performance signalled the rare focus and creative prowess which continues to set her apart. She remains a true master of melancholic pop, even if the more lively moments never quite went off.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Marika Hackman’s website here.
Watch the video for Before I Sleep here: