Last night South Gippslanders were treated to another night of world class music in the dairy capital of Leongatha.
South Gippsland’s growing reputation as a boutique regional music trail for international performers was confirmed yet again last night when the ever progressive Lyrebird Arts Council secured a date with Martha Wainwright.
The last time I saw Martha Wainwright perform live, was at Radio City Music Hall in New York city in 2008.The Canadian born singer songwriter was supporting electro outfit Goldfrapp, dressed to the nines like a long legged bird, lost in a bulky fur cape that was tangled in her guitar strap, with sprinkles of diamonds and a nest of blond hair.
It was a big auditorium to fill and Wainwright made no secret of the fact that she was excited to be there, that she had `made it’ to performing at the iconic New York venue. She then surprised the audience by inviting her famous mother Kate and aunt Anna, of famed folk duo the McGarrigle sisters on stage to share the moment through song.
Five years later, sitting in the Leongatha town hall life has changed dramatically for Wainwright. Her mother Kate passed away in 2010, she had a child with her husband/ producer Brad and she seems to have grown well and truly into her own skin as an emotionally charged headline act.
Effortlessly captivating, original and genuine Wainwright feels every word of her lyrics with heartfelt sincerity. Literally throwing her body and soul into the flames of honesty with every song, its impossible not to feel moved by Wainwright, if not emotionally exhausted. She acts out every lyric so convincingly that you feel every inch of her pain.
On tour to promote her album Come Home to Mama, there was a cruel underlying subtext to the show, that Wainwright had had to lose her mother’s compass to gain a sense of stability in her own life. Graciously referencing her mother’s legacy on several occasions throughout the evening and even blowing her a kiss in respect at the end of the encore, it was clear that Wainwright is still processing her loss, every time she walks on stage.
If being a great artist is about connecting with people and making people feel something, then it is obvious as to why Wainwright has blossomed into a world class performer in her own right. A lifetime of music, touring,performing and collaborating has seasoned Wainwright into a master of interpretation and intimate delivery; she seamlessly jumped from her own songs, to her mother’s songs, to two stunning interpretations of Edith Piaf songs (in perfect French!) to Nick Cave’s The Ship Song with and passion and ease.
Like her musical brother Rufus Wainwright, her flair for the dramatic and the melodramatic could easily translate to musical theatre- surely we will see her play the lead in a Broadway show one day! After all, Martha Wainwright is one of those artists who just keeps on getting better and better with age!