Image by Blank Slate Photography
Before Martha came Bernice. The Napoleon Dynamitesquely dressed quartet of keys, bass/synth, synth drums and vocals perfectly created the headspace necessary for a Martha Wainwright gig; their jazz-tinged spacey sounds fronted by the light and mellow vocals of (Ms) Robin Dann reminded me of Air (the band, not the breathing stuff).
When Martha entered the stage, wearing a boilersuit and uteral jewellery in honour of the Women’s march, the music turned to a more familiar guitar-fronted format, backed by Bernice. With songs from new album Goodnight City, as well as fan-favourites like I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too, Martha’s trademark sound was well-received by the mixed audience.
An extremely likeable character, she had visited the Grainger Market and bought buttons to modify and redesign her merch T-shirts especially for Newcastle-Gateshead; her relaxed attitude led to occasional forgotten lyrics and moments of band confusion, in an endearing way. Her children featured heavily in the song lyrics, both those written by her and her brother Rufus, and friend Beth Orton. Her voice reminded me at times of a young, female Bob Dylan, of Edith Piaf, and hints of Jeff Buckley came through. The gig felt real, like a true musician confident in spontaneity, and deeply connected with her audience.