Mike Atkinson

Martha Wainwright, Nottingham Rock City, Monday November 3

Posted in gigs, Nottingham Post, Rock City by Mike A on November 3, 2008

It takes a special kind of boldness to announce to your audience, after the third number, that you’re not wearing any underwear. Despite wrapping her admission in layers of wry self-deprecation, Martha Wainwright’s words came back to bite her later on, as a boorish heckler sought to labour the point. “I really wish I hadn’t said that”, she sighed.

This kind of reckless candour lies at the heart of much of Martha’s material: confessional, twisted, deeply personal songs that can teeter on the brink of over-sharing. On stage at a draughty, under-populated Rock City, her interpretations deftly straddled two competing standpoints: the accuser (“You cheated me, and I can’t believe it!”) and the victim (“My heart was made for bleeding all over you”).

Such dense lyrical complexity demanded much from us, and those with the greatest familiarity with Wainwright’s work derived the greatest rewards. Happily, most of her audience fell into this category, and an atmosphere of fond concentration prevailed.

Saving her most notorious song for the encore, Martha performed BMFA – written as an angry rant at her father – with an affectionate half-smile that suggested that the hatchet had long since been buried.

“Underwear is available in the foyer”, she quipped, truthfully. On the way out, the crush at the merchandise stall was three-deep.

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