Live Review: Martha Wainwright, Oh Pep!

14 March 2017 | 9:10 am | Matt MacMaster

"Her newer material got the most attention and these songs also sounded the best."

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Taronga's summer concert series ended its 2017 run in style. Melbourne folk-pop outfit Oh Pep! had the pleasure of opening this evening. They were charming and breezy, but lacked punch; the glorious late afternoon sun shining through the Harbour Bridge to the west was more impressive (it was a seriously good view!). Their set (a good chunk of it being reserved for their debut LP Stadium Cake) was pleasant, but floated away once they finished.

Canadian singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright was as compelling as she was sublime, and boasted a remarkable stage presence that overflowed with wit and wry, salty humour. Her talent is raw, as are the subjects about which she sings, and that gives her an exciting edge that has allowed her to self-define a unique space free from generic female singer-songwriter tropes.

Wainwright walked on to polite applause (the crowds at these events are not the liveliest), and opened with I Am A Diamond, a song written by her mother (the late Kate McGarrigle). It's a beautiful piece about self-determination and bristles with quiet power. She then moved Around The Bend, to the lead single from her latest album Goodnight City, and her band came to life.

Her newer material got the most attention and these songs also sounded the best. Wainwright hurried through Far Away, but GPT and These Flowers sounded great. Bleeding All Over You was a triumph and she ended the night with Factory, an anthem dedicated to female musicians everywhere that was utterly captivating.

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Her performance on Saturday was a tremendous success, drawing on all her faculties. This was not only a stellar show technically, but also a candid look at a fascinating person who seems as messy, imperfect and wonderful as the rest of us.