CMW 2013: Martha Wainwright

By Fan Wu

Martha Wainwright took the stage at El Mocambo for Canadian Music Week, as the opening act before The Dears. And when I say “took”, I mean it quite literally: she made the most out of her brief forty-minute set. ImageShe started off the night by saying “I’m going to be playing all new songs tonight, if that’s alright with you folks”; but five songs later, after forgetting one of those new songs, she took a request to play “Factory” from an audience member, quipping “I’m such a slut; one whisper and I’ll do whatever you like.” But new or old, her songs are unforgettable: tuneful, tightly-crafted melodies pushed into transcendence by her unmatched voice, smoky and in control and yet always betraying the slightest vulnerability. Her set included a song about motherhood (she became a mother in 2009) but also a song about her late mother, the great songwriter Kate McGarrigle. During the latter performance–Wainwright said that the song was pulled from an unreleased musical, though it sounded like a knockout folk-pop song–I could not tell if the water on her face came from her perspiration or from her tears. And I’m sure Martha Wainwright wouldn’t have it any other way.

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