CABARET FESTIVAL: Martha Wainwright – Come Home to Mama – Dunstan Playhouse – 3.5K

SMA Kryztoff banner May 13 100dpi2013 Cab LogoThere is no doubt that Martha Wainwright is an extraordinary performer and the sold out crowd in the Dunstan Playhouse were obviously very excited to have the opportunity to experience her play live. Accompanied by husband Brad Albetta on bass, Yuval Lion on drums and Ben Grayson on piano and keyboards, she showed her own skills on guitar and set the air on fire with her beautiful vocals.

The first half of the set was fairly routine, as Wainwright played a series of great songs of her own. There was a definite shift in the energy when Albetta and Lion left the stage and Wainwright and Grayson played several numbers by Edith Piaf, including the delightful L’Accordéoniste, which Wainwright kindly translated the story of for those of us whose French is a little rusty. This was the section of the show where she started talking between songs and the energy became a lot more interactive and comfortable.

Wainwright shared several stories about her mother, Kate McGarrigle, and played a number of songs written by her, including the delightful I am a Diamond, from an unproduced musical theatre production, and Proserpina, the final song McGarrigle wrote. It was these later numbers, along with an encore in which she performed Stormy Weather, accompanied by Albetta on piano, that were particularly lovely and emotive.

This is one of those shows that prompts you to question just how wide the definition of “cabaret” can be. With the full band behind her, it seemed a little odd to be sitting in the surrounds of a theatre for a show that felt like it would go off in a pub. Having said that, several of her other Australian dates have also been in theatre venues, so it may be a choice on Wainwright’s part. However, whether it is appropriate to be included in a cabaret festival still seems questionable.

While this performance seemed a bit out of place in this festival and Wainwright took a while to offer anything extra to the audience, once she did her likeable personality added to the quality of her performance, to create a pleasant night of enjoyable music.

Kryztoff Rating: 3.5K

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