Martha Wainwright

Martha Wainwright


Imagine being so cold you could almost form icicle mists with every breath you take. Then take a night with Martha Wainwright, with a voice that sounds like it’s in need of some hot honey and lemon concoction. And you’re in for soul warming revelations. So you can say.

Opening up and casting her net with personal favourite, ‘Around The Bend’, Wainwright brings much needed moments of forgetfulness of the cold, even within tonight’s venue The Ritz, which is probably the same temperature inside as out. These moments of forgetfulness though remain a hum throughout the night, leaving only cold gusts of air every time the door is opened, to keep you from forgetting yourself in the moment. But with a voice like hers, all would be forgiven. It’s entrancing and binding, her words often seem exclamatory, leaving only the minor pauses between songs filled with genial chatter to break the spell.

New work focuses on the change in her personal life: with two young children, her musical content contains mainly references to her children, both of which she mentions as her inspiration for her current songwriting. Both ‘Francis’ and ‘Window’ are about and for her children, she tells us, with the latter being for the child jealous of their sibling. It’s fascinating. Motherhood must in this way now simply mean an overwhelming inspiration to create, provide and inspire, and Wainwright embodies this.

For me though, the song that really showcased her extraordinary voice was ‘Before The Children Came Along’. I was mesmerised by the range of her vocals, and the words and sounds that she could form from this song alone. Even her own need for perfection made her begin this song for the second time so she could clear her throat, then blow us away. Songs such as ‘Look Into My Eyes’, sang half in French, only served to make me appreciate her more. It all remained effortless throughout, didn’t feel forced, and was all in all a great evening.

Rounding off the night with ‘Proserpina’ in the encore, we were left on a high note, just as we started. I love this song. I love the story behind it; based upon Roman mythology of a mother searching for her child and doing everything and anything she can to find her, even if it means destroying the planet, no matter what. Its mythology is a representation of the seasons of the year, when the outcome is that her daughter, the Roman goddess Proserpina, has to spend time between essentially two worlds, creating the changes in the seasons as she leaves and returns. It’s also the last song Wainwright’s mother, the late singer Kate McGarrigle,  wrote before she passed away. It’s beautiful and devastating in equal measure. With the backing choir being the rest of the band tonight, it’s a great way to end, and pleasing the crowd seems to be at the forefront of Wainwright’s mind. Wainwright is affable and self-assured, and the venture to see her live is worth it. A pro if ever you saw one.

Martha Wainwright | Official | Facebook | Twitter

Danielle Kenneally

Silent Radio Digital News Editor. Silent Radio Newsletter Editor. Silent Radio Reviewer.