Saturday, May 20, 2006

Martha Wainwright at the Hanbury Ballroom

In complete contrast to the previous night's entertainment, we went to see hippy folk-chick Martha Wainwright, who was headlining at the Hanbury as part of the Great Escape Festival. I may have mentioned once or twice how much I love Martha's debut album and so was really excited about seeing her live in such an intimate venue, before she makes it really big, which I'm sure is only a matter of time. The Hanbury is a strange hybrid of school-hall and Eastern temple and doesn't have the best acoustic for live music, but it is only down the road from us, which was a bonus on such a windy, rainy night.

We sat through two pretty lame support bands, entertaining ourselves by laughing at a painfully inebriated couple who had obviously been out drinking all day. The girl was staggering around and shouting at the bands, while her boyfriend struggled to stay upright and kept one eye closed, presumably in an attempt to keep his balance. It was unsurprising when they were quietly evicted at the start of Martha's set, after a few inane heckles. Martha dealt with this minor ruction, and a few subsequent technical problems, with unflappable professionalism, keeping the audience rapt throughout. It was just her and a guitar – no backing band - but she filled the space with a powerful, penetrating voice, like shattered honeycomb dipped in tequila. Everyone was eagerly awaiting the classic “Mother F**king Asshole” which she delivered with conviction as her final number. There was no encore, but then how could you follow that? She mentioned Rufus a couple of times, at one point proclaiming “I'm related to one of the best looking men on the planet...help me out here” and I wanted to shout out, “But you got all the talent”, but restrained myself. I figured there'd been enough heckling for one night and anyway, she seemed quite affectionate towards her brother and might not have appreciated such an obvious jibe against him. I do much prefer her voice to his though – it has so much more depth and character, while his is rather whiny. I hope she soon reaches the kind of acclaim Rufus currently enjoys, she certainly deserves it.

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