Warbling, off-key and whimsical, one of the well-known and loved Wainwright family, Martha, joined the Celtic Connections programme this year for an unfortunately disappointing gig at Glasgow’s ABC. As quirky performers go, Martha Wainwright is renowned for being compelling yet feisty but this show was certainly lacking, even with support from Mercury-Prize nominated Ed Harcourt.
Martha began creating a hype for herself with her well-noted EPs, prior to her 2005 critically and commercially successful debut LP, Martha Wainwright. Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole got a great deal of mention in the press, with its contention and content, as well as acclaim for the sheer talent.
In 2008, Martha followed with her sophomore album, I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too, which showed her great musical maturity and talent as a songwriter. In 2010 she toured the world promoting her third album, San Fusils, Ni Souliers A Paris: Martha Wainwright’s Piaf Album. This extraordinary album, an homage to the great Edith Piaf, was received with glowing reviews, leaving audiences stunned by Martha’s incredible range and talent. Her last album, Come Home To Mama, produced by Cibo Matto’s Yuka Honda, was heralded by many as a sign of her maturity and progressive talent.
Dressed in what looked like Ghostbusters jumpsuits her band arrived with her on stage, entrancing, beguiling but with a severe lack of decent sound. However, this is not the first time I have been in this venue and disappointed with the sound. Aside from the crowd being present and too much for a more intimate venue I do question whether one would be more suited for the yodel of this Canadian singer, songwriter.
Wainwright cannot help but bring up the copious talents of her family herself. Discussing her latest album, Goodnight City, she mentioned that she had requested the help of other songwriters because she was too busy “procreating”. It was an album that had assistance from the likes of Beth Orton and Glen Hansard, as she had become a mother of two. However, it did feel that also on stage that she was a little too dependent on others when it came to her performance, as it felt un-rehearsed and haphazard. As a female in her thirty-somethings I can totally sympathise with the work involved let alone having two kids to contend with, but there was complete disappointment from my side with this concert.
As a 40-year-old married mother of two, Martha’s content has evolved and matured over the years but her performance feels more makeshift, lacking in the tightness and flawless sound I have previously heard from this Canadian gal. Regretfully a flop for this much-admired singer; perhaps a more suited venue would have been a consideration.