Concert Reviews

Martha Wainwright at The Great Hall

The folksy Montrealler hosted a delightfully shambolic evening at the Great Hall.
“This is really disorganised. I hope you like things loose” pretty much sums up Martha Wainwright’s show at the Great Hall. She set the tone for a relaxed and charming gig of scanning sheet music, debating which song to play next and a beautiful trip through Canadiana.
Wainwright admits she’s tired of her own songs, so she’s going to play a few of her mother’s and some old Classics – including I am a Diamond and Chelsea Hotel #2. There are healthy smatterings of crowd banter and a few of her own songs – the lovely Bleeding All Over You and Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole (played on the shouted request of an audience member). Highlights outside of the music include some mild pops at brother Rufus “there are some of his CDs at the merch table – $3!” The breaking of a guitar string leads Martha to ask anyone in the audience to go grab her tote over by the merch; it has her spare guitar strings, which Martha rifles through on stage with much aplomb.
Despite the old favourites and new classics being played, it was the feeling of the gig rather than the performance that made it stand out. There’s no doubt that Martha’s a charmer, getting away with the disorganised setup thanks to the love and goodwill of the audience and fellow musicians. There are a couple of points in the show when Wainwright leaves her guest singers to it as she saunters off stage which in lesser hands could have been awful. But this is a musician who’s in their element; relaxed, easy and here to have a good time – just like her audience.
By the end of the night, there’s sheet music strewn around the stage, Martha has given out at least one musician’s home address to the entire room, and there’s the promise of Martha selling her vinyl from that infamous merch stand. I’ve never seen a gig like it, but something tells me a lot of the crowd are lovingly familiar with this one of a kind performer and her messy, lovely shows.

About author

Northern English gig monkey, feminist, indy kid. Mostly enthusiasm and elbows.