Martha Wainwright – Queen Elizabeth Hall

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(No video from the night  – but this is one of the songs that Martha sang)

Why this gig?

I’ve always know about the Wainwright/McGarrigle dynasty in American folk music. I’ve seen Loudon Wainwright and the McGarrigle sisters at various Cambridge Folk Festivals over the years. I’ve never really investigated the next generation. So I decided to put that right.


Support was from Addi Brownlee, who was rather wonderful. More than a drop of Suzanne Vega about her – which is no bad thing. I don’t think she’s often in the UK, so it ‘s worth keeping an eye out for her.


I don’t know much about Martha Wainwright. I have her first album, but I can’t remember the last time I played it. So I don’t really know what to expect.

On the surface it’s pretty standard woman with a guitar stuff. But listen to the lyrics and it becomes clear that there’s a little more going on here. For example, the night’s second song tells us how much she enjoys make-up sex. Martha obviously has no problems at all telling us intimate things about her life through her songs. A lot of the evening is highly introspective.

At the start of the show, she is alone on stage with just a guitar for company. Later she invites her husband out to accompany her on the piano. He brings their young son who spends his time on stage wandering round and tidying things up. It starts off as cute, but ends up being pretty annoying.

Even later, she invites her cousin, Lily Lanken to join her for a few songs. It’s at that point I’m struck by the comparisons between the Wainwright/McGarrigle family in the US (yes, and Canada) and the UK’s Waterson and Carthy clan. Both groups have an extended family of extremely talented musicians and singers who are capable or performing together in seemingly endless combinations.

It’s a great show. I thoroughly enjoyed it (with the possible exception of the small child on stage). I’ll be seeing her again in the future.

The setlist is on

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