Martha Wainwright at Whelan’s – Review
Martha Wainwright at Whelan’s – November 3rd
Arriving at Martha Wainwright’s concert at Whelan’s last Monday night, one would have found themselves at the midst of protest. Well, a mini protest clad with banners and placards showing images of the effects of Palestine-Israeli warfare. Anti-Israel leaflets were being passed around in order to stop Wainwright playing her next concert in Israel. Stepping inside the venue, it was a different story, and easy to forget the shenanigans going on outside. A seated performance awaited us, which is unusual for Whelan’s, but welcomed by all as Wainwright’s music requires some dedicated listening.
Support on the night came from Galway folk songstress Miriam Donohue who has been making waves around Ireland with her vibrant, lyrical songs and has come a long way in a little over a year or so performing. She topped Whelan’s Ones to Watch list in 2013, has played lots of festivals along with musicians such as – Nina Persson (The Cardigans), Jack L, John Spillane and tonight it is Martha Wainwright. ‘Street Car’ and ‘Firefly’ were my favourites performed by Donahue. At the moment she is raising funds for her début album, via her fund it page here. Miriam Donohue is well worth the investigation.
When Wainwright stepped onto stage she opened with a song by her mother, Kate McGarrigle. A song from a play that was never produced, but if it was to have an actress it would star “Martha Wainwright”. Moving on, ‘Can You Believe It’ and ‘Some People’ were simply delicious – performed to perfection. Her lyrics are twisted and clever – “I don’t mind the rain on my head, If only I believed in God, I’d ask Him to help me find my way, but I am faced with a world that does not have the words to say. Can you believe it?”
Storytelling is another of Wainwright’s skills, amidst the jokes about trying to write songs while bringing up babies. She often mentioned that her songs were quite dull and negative, but it is hard to agree with her when so many are refreshing and uplifting. ‘Year of the Dragon’ was a moving song about getting older, and ‘Radiostar’ was about her struggles to be one.
At times it was like a stand-up comedy routine, laugh-out-loud moments to bursts of unexpected emotion as she defined love, death, life and motherhood. The enthralling ‘Everything Wrong’ could hardly have left a dry eye in the house “I have been really, really sad, except for having you with your dad”.
After some recent work between waves of hilarity, moments of joy to genuine sadness, she sang ‘Proserpina’ a song about her mother. Ending on ‘Baltimore’, a song she sang with a close friend who had died from cancer. According to Wainwright, she was late to the music game within her famed musical family and in general, but all that we can see is a lady doing some serious catching up, and people are noticing.
What a treasure it was to hear Martha Wainwright and her beautiful voice, a woman with a gift.
Review by Aine Byrne