By Mikaela - Lessons in Lo-Fi - 04/18/2005

Despite a “technical glitch” which prevented the venue from being open on time, causing a line to form along St. Laurent, the recent return of Montreal’s prodigal daughter, Martha Wainwright, went off without a hitch. Opting to perform without an opening band, Martha Wainwright took the stage a little after 9:30pm and entertained the sold-out crowd for just shy of two hours. The set began with the hair-rising “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole”, an ambitious opener which could have easily had the show peaking too soon, but the singer/songwriter dutifully backed it up with equally mesmerizing ditties. The rest of the set included many of the tracks featured on her new self-titled album, released just last month on Zoë Records (some of you will recognize many of these tracks from previously released EPs and live shows). Highlights of the evening included “Ball & Chain,” an ode to, or rather an incrimination of, male genitalia and the always appreciated “The Factory.” However, despite the solo bill, a Wainwright show wouldn’t be complete without a little family love: Wainwright received beautiful backing vocals from her cousin Lily Lankin and piano accompaniment from family friend Tom. Later on, Wainwright was joined on stage by her mother and aunt, who together make up the McGarrigle Sisters. Playing the piano and accordion, the sisters provided musical backing while Wainwright performed one of the McGarrigles’ new songs. This was followed by an always crowd-pleasing French torch song -- the name of which escapes me at present -- which she performed with her mother on accompanying piano.

In addition to the soaring musicianship, it is worthwhile to note Wainwright’s charming bilingual between-song banter, directed mostly at the young men who accounted for much of the Main Hall’s audience. In between plugging her new CD and requests for Scotch on the rocks, the singer coyly commented on “les beaux hommes” in the crowd. This being said, my lady friends and I were not immune, and likewise fell under the slow spell of one of Montreal’s foremost singer/songwriters.

Martha Wainwright will be back in town with the rest of her band, performing June 10th at Cabaret La Tulipe.

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