Martha Wainwright – Live Review – City Varieties, Leeds
By Barney Bardsley, January 2017
Martha Wainwright, there are so many reasons to love you: for wearing a shapeless brown boilersuit and slinging a big shiny pendant of a uterus round your neck – then matching the entire combo with black, shiny high heels; for busting your guitar string halfway through the set and coolly re-stringing it “Oh, it’s a G string, too!” whilst regaling your audience with witty and acerbic anecdotes all the while; for loving your kids and writing them full-on fabulous love songs; for being from Canada; for having a wild, richly creative and musical family – all of whom, Loudon, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Rufus, come on stage with you during your set, whether in song, story and joke, or in spirit; for doing Leonard Cohen’s ‘Chelsea Hotel’ as your impassioned encore, followed by a haunting tribute to your mother Kate, with ‘Proserpina’, the last song she ever wrote and performed; and, mostly, supremely, for that singular voice – like a ragged street urchin screaming for shelter one minute, and a tender, ethereal being from a world beyond, the next. You are one mesmerising performer. Prodigiously talented. Disconcertingly honest. (I look forward to the newly-completed memoir, “I’m trying to figure out whether to change any names…” Please don’t!) A true troubadour. Rufus was always my favourite from the clan. But it’s time for him to move over now. The light is shining on sister Kate. “I thought I was tired tonight”, she said, halfway through her Leeds set, as she steadily gathered power, momentum, grace. “But I’m not tired!” Jaw cracking grin. And I’m not tired now, either.
Martha Wainwright’s new album ‘Goodnight City’ is out now