Dressed in a brightly striped dress and a ‘Rufus is a Tit Man’ T-shirt, Martha Wainwright begins tonight’s set with the pensive acoustic number, This Life. Her backing band joins her on stage for a run of songs from her latest album Come Home To Mama, interspersed with some highlights from her first two albums – though, somewhat refreshingly, no Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole. Wainwright is a reliably terrific live performer and very funny on stage, with some droll banter between her and husband/bassist/manager Brad Albetta.
Although the uptempo album cuts come across well, the set’s midpoint kicks off an even stronger second act, dressing the songs down with minimal accompaniment. Wainwright is at her best when the spotlight is on her incredible voice and she rips through a couple of rousing Edith Piaf numbers that are crying out to be tackled once again within the impressive surrounds of the Recital Centre. As well as a rendition of Nick Cave’s The Ship Song, she covers a couple of oddities from her mother’s back catalogue. But the tear-jerking moment of the night is the Kate McGarrigle-pennedProserpina, followed closely by Wainwright’s own song about motherhood in the shadow of her mother’s death, Everything’s Wrong. Tinpan Orange are on hand to add to the Greek Chorus-style backing vocals on Proserpina and they prove themselves to be the most well-judged support to an Australian Martha Wainwright show yet. The kangaroos may have refused to wake up for Martha and family on their recent visit to Healesville Sanctuary, but they will always be guaranteed an attentive, highly appreciative audience whenever they visit Melbourne.
BY CHRIS GIRDLER
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