A True Entertainer

Canadian singer/songwriter Martha Wainwright is blessed with a larger than life personality and charisma that instantly charms and amuses a crowd. Along with serenading the crowd with fabulous confessional tunes from her new album, ‘I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too’, Martha endears herself to the hundreds of people packing Edinburgh’s Picturehouse with her wit and openness. Kicking off with powerful rock tune, ‘Bleeding All Over You’, Martha wows with her blustering acoustic guitar tunes and heartfelt vocals, moving into another tune from the new album, ‘Jesus & Mary’ which features a tense undercurrent.

Martha seems delighted to be in Scotland and has acquired a tartan corset for the occasion, which she unashamedly tugs at on several occasions. Her guitarist is kitted out in a cowboy hat and her husband backs her on bass and has been given a tartan tie to fit in. It’s quite a family affair with Martha’s cousin on backing vocals; indeed Martha even lets her cousins’ band ‘Mitten Strings’ play a tune midset. It’s a sweet ethereal folk affair and the crowd listen patiently as Martha takes a breather. One of the highlights of the set has to be the appearance of Martha’s mother, straight off a plane, who accompanies the singer on keyboard for the overwhelming French ballad, ‘Dis, Quand Reviendras-tu?’ Free from guitars, Martha acts out the part of a spurned lover as emotionally as any actress.

There’s a large section of tunes played on electric guitar as well, including, ‘Ball and Chain’ from Martha’s eponymous album and the jaunty ‘Lolita’, an old song from Martha’s very first EP which gets a rare outing. As Martha’s last tour comprised mostly of tunes from the new album, it’s great to hear these older tracks, with woozy blues tune ‘New York, New York, New York’ taken from Martha’s ‘Factory’ EP also making an appearance.

The new songs are still hot stuff, like ‘You Cheated Me’ which harnesses a triumphant anger behind valiant rock riffs, but “classic” Martha tunes like the dreamy tear-jerker, ‘Factory’ and passionate, ‘Bloodymotherfuckingarsehole’ receive a warm reception. Part of Martha’s charm is the fact that she has clearly tried to make an interesting and varied set, even though some of the songs are so old that she forgets chords and openly jokes about this with the audience, which feels more as if it builds a bond between artist and crowd than making her look foolish. Martha Wainwright is a wonder to watch; if you have the opportunity to witness her live show, do not turn it down!