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Martha Wainwright Live


Martha Wainwright Live in Liverpool

Liverpool Philharmonic, 1 October 2021


So I’m ‘back on the review/photographing horse’ after nearly two years of forced abstinence through this deadly Covid pandemic. In recent months I’ve pondered on who I’d love to witness live to start galloping again, and then I received Martha Wainwright’s new record LOVE WILL BE REBORN. I was reminded how taken back I was by her eponymous debut LP which still remains one of my favourite records of all time. Then came the invite to her Liverpool show - the last stop on her UK leg of the LOVE WILL BE REBORN tour. And I couldn’t think of a better way to get going again, despite the fact that I don’t make a habit of revisiting live shows from artists - this would be my fourth Martha concert over a period of 15 years. But it was all too tempting - a new and great record, one of today’s finest singer/songwriters and live performers, and back to live!


I shouldn’t be nervous after all these years of covering live shows, but I am - find a parking space, will the box office have my photo pass? Will my aging carriage survive the Mersey/Birkenhead Tunnel? Is the show lighting going to be viable for shooting? etc., etc., etc. It took 30 minutes to find parking space gold dust and my pass was waiting for me. The Philharmonic is a favourite venue of mine, primarily for the reliable acoustic quality of the place, although photographing has to from the rear of the auditorium, adjacent to the sound and lighting desks. Unlike some venues, staff are friendly, helpful and accommodating so I’m quickly settled in for Martha’s support act, Bernice.


Bernice is a Canadian indie pop band from Toronto, Ontario, fronted by singer and songwriter Robin Dann. They have twice been long-listed nominees for the Polaris Music Prize, receiving nods at the 2018 Polaris Music Prize for PUFF LP: IN THE AIR WITHOUT A SHAPE and at the 2021 Polaris Music Prize for EAU DE BONJOURNO.

Robin Dann - vocals
Thom Gill - guitarist
Dan Fortin - bassist
Phil Melanson - percussionist


Although the band has four members only three wandered onto the stage - guitarist/keyboardist, percussionist and vocalist. In front of a half-filled auditorium the trio began with an instrumental introduction before Robin Dann opened proceedings vocally. I’ll admit I had difficulty in understanding the band’s musical aims but by song three they had certainly secured my interest with a romantic ballad that boasted lovely lyrics and a tangible melody. Dann’s voice was all sweetness, light and expression while her compatriots provided a more-than-adequate, minimalist instrumental backdrop. I’ve lost track now of musical genres - there are so many and they are continually being invented - but I reckon the band’s music could best be described as psycho/folk/pop. The audience also learned to love them with enough acclamation to convince they weren’t just being polite (the very minimum I have learned to expect from savvy, friendly and supportive Liverpudlian music-lovers).


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