Live Review: Martha Wainwright, Margaret Glaspy

14 March 2017 | 3:36 pm | Guido Farnell

"Not even the middle-aged woman who proudly warbles along to every song — flat and out of key — could kill the vibes Wainwright is dealing."

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Margaret Glaspy presents songs off her debut album Emotions And Math with a trio that delivers complex arrangements while working the bare-bones essentials that only a three-piece can deliver. It has the feel of what Kristin Hersh was doing at the start of her solo career, but Glaspy is less angular as a keen folksy-pop sensibility softens. Primed for success, comparisons to acts like Feist and Joan Wasser seem obvious, but Glaspy has more of an earthy and almost rootsy presence. In this support slot, Glaspy's set showcases an emerging artist whose development should be interesting to watch.

In the past ten or so years, Martha Wainwright has matured, right before our very eyes, as a singer-songwriter. Gently strumming a guitar, she lets rip into a mesmerising version of Kate McGarrigle's I Am A Diamond, which features the lyric, "And I'm gonna shine" — a powerful way of stepping out of the long shadows cast by her father Loudon Wainwright III, mother and aunt (Kate and Anna McGarrigle respectively) and her brother Rufus. As Wainwright's vocals soar, it is clear she has found her own voice that can proudly take its place among those of her immensely talented family. Wainwright's father rather infamously once declared on stage — while his daughter, Martha, was in the wings — that the song I'd Rather Be Lonely to be about his then "tedious teenage daughter". Rebelling, Wainwright's songs about her second son Francis Valentine from her latest album Goodnight City are filled with nothing but joy and doting motherly love. It's with a knowing wink and a glint in her eyes that she introduces Before The Children Came Along, which recalls the intense emotions and "all that lovemaking" that led to conception. There is a maturity about Wainwright's latest album, which, having an autobiographical glow, overflows with emotions that ring true.

Wainwright starts to wind the clock back as she introduces older material with her pithy, wisecracking sense of humour. "That first album about staying up too late and drinking too much, well all of it was real," she muses, contemplating where life has taken her since. She recalls dropping acid back in her wilder days and jokingly goes on to suggest that dealers should line up with fans for an autograph. As Wainwright sings, the inebriated bar-hopping 20-something-year-old is momentarily standing before us. Yeah, we know you are married but don't we all have feelings too. Time seemingly stops as Wainwright enchants with the tender, aching heartbreak of Somehow, a song written for her by local talent Julia Stone. Not even the middle-aged woman who proudly warbles along to every song — flat and out of key — could kill the vibes Wainwright is dealing. Her band delivers Merrill Garbus' jaunty syncopations on Take The Reins, which lifts the energy of what is a fairly sedate show. Wainwright declares this week International Women's Week and predictably rails against Trump. A dreamy cover of Leonard Cohen's Chelsea Hotel and her own Factory bring us down gently. As Wainwright matures, she shines as brilliantly as 24 carats.