Last Night: Martha Wainwright & Sage Redman at the Triple Door"/>
Martha Wainwright, who hails from Canada's first family of folk (Rufus Wainwright: brother, Kate McGarrigle & Loudon Wainwright: parents), has a voice so nimble and dramatic that she can sing just about any way she wants. She is the singer Jewel Kilcher and Regina Spektor wish they could be. As with those two, listening to Wainwright's vocal calisthenics can be exhausting. But unlike Kilcher and, to a lesser degree, Spektor, when Wainwright does her thing, it doesn't seem forced.
Last night, Wainwright played an acoustic set at The Triple Door. Her hair bleached beach blonde, she was clad in a blazer, jeans, and high-heeled red shoes that she later informed the crowd she'd purchased on the cheap in London after an audience member loudly declared them "fierce." She drank water from a metal pitcher, and encouraged the crowd to shun plastic water bottles. That, she said, was the extent of her political "platform," and she quickly returned to what she does best: sing.
For the first hour of her show, Wainwright sang alone, armed only with an acoustic guitar, drawing heavily from her latest release, I Know You're Married But I Have Feelings Too. Working her way through superb tracks like "You Cheated Me" and "Comin' Tonight," Wainwright's emotions ran the gamut. Like her mother, especially, Wainwright's brand of folk is as theatrical as folk gets -- to the point where it really isn't folk anymore.
Between songs, Wainwright's rapport with the audience was clever and interactive. Before playing "Niger River," she told the crowd that she was inspired to write the song for her husband (who doubles as her producer, and joined Wainwright for a few tracks on piano and bass later in the show) while on a tour of Africa organized by Blur's Damon Albarn, the point of which, she said, "was to listen to African music and smoke pot, apparently, which was cool by me." And when she saw a couple in the front enjoying vodka martinis, she summoned one to the stage for herself by announcing into the microphone that she'd really like a vodka martini. It arrived approximately 10 minutes later, hand-delivered to her as she plucked the opening notes of a song.
I Know You're Married... is a fine album, but is nevertheless inferior to Wainwright's stunning, self-titled debut. And while the crowd responded affectionately throughout her set, "Factory" and "Bloody Motherfucking Asshole" off that 2005 release received the warmest applause of the evening.
Opening for Wainwright was 15-year-old wunderkind Sage Redman, a singer and pianist of immense potential whose sure, husky voice belies her relative youth. Yet only when Redman covered Joe Jackson's "Is She Really Going Out With Him" and "Rich Girl" by Hall & Oates did she distinguish herself from any number of female vocalists whose songs have appeared on Grey's Anatomy. But the young lady's obviously got time, and a helluva base to build on.
P.S...The banana split on The Triple Door's dessert menu? Sweet mother of God.