Concert Review: Martha Wainwright, November 30, The Great Hall

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During her performance last night at The Great Hall, Martha Wainwright noted that two of her bandmates were from Toronto, which made this feel like a bit of a homecoming for her too. She also gave a shout out to a store across the street from the venue where she had just picked up the outfit she was wearing on stage, so it all felt pretty local. Wainwright later continued with the Toronto theme, telling a story about a time she spent here in her younger days before stopping herself.

“This story’s going nowhere. But you know what? Neither are you … Neither am I.” For their part, I’m sure the audience was glad she didn’t go anywhere.

With her loose, sometimes meandering, but generally enjoyable stage banter, Wainwright and her band seemed to be having a lot of fun up there – even a bad joke about her song “Getting Older” being called “Getting Younger” became kind of funny after she repeated it a few times in a row … and that bit then eventually morphed into a semi-pitch to buy a t-shirt from the merch table. Musically, the band was impressive, though also playful, such as one moment when they spontaneously started humorously riffing on some instrumental jazz while she was talking to the crowd.

While her band was impressive, some of the most memorable moments of the entire night came during the more stripped down moments in Wainwright’s set. At one point, the band left the stage as Wainwright ran through a few number from earlier in her career, commenting on how while she didn’t relate to some of those songs she wrote all those years ago, some resonated even more as she’s gotten older.

Other highlights of her set included a performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel” that saw her belting the song out powerfully. She followed that up with a lovely rendition of her mother Kate McGarrigle’s song “Talk To Me Of Mendocino” and later in the night played another of her mother’s songs, “Proserpina”, during her first encore.

Ending things off with a second encore of “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole” after that seemed almost anticlimactic after what felt like a natural song to go out on but I’m sure a lot of fans were probably expecting to hear “BMFA” so it’s not like she could just skip it. And of course it still sounded great regardless, so what am I complaining about?

Posted on by Paul in Concerts

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