SHOW REVIEW: Martha Wainwright / KT Tunstall @ The Pabst Theater, 08.15.08

Words and images by Lilledeshan Bose

I’m not going to lie: Martha Wainwright and not headliner KT Tunstall was the reason I went to the Pabst for the second night in a row. I’ve been in love with her voice, her impassioned delivery and her obscenity-laced confessional songs since her self-titled album was first played on my iPod three years ago.
I always dreamt of seeing her live, wondering how she would compare to her melodramatic brother Rufus, her funny actor-dad Loudon III and her mother Kate McGarrigle, both folksingers. I would watch videos of her on YouTube on repeat constantly.

I haven’t had a chance to digest songs from Wainwright’s latest release, “I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too.” All I knew was that there was more instrumentation on those songs than the eponymous record. But I knew she wouldn’t disappoint on Friday night.

Armed with just a guitar, and dressed in simple blouse and short skirt, Wainwright literally kicked up a storm with her raspy voice –alone. “I inherited it from my father,” she said, of the rhythmic, syncopated stomping she would use to accompany her songs. Apparently, amazing live performances are genetic — and Wainwright does her family proud. She played oldies like “Factory” and closed with a rushed version of “Bloody Motherfucking Asshole” (I think maybe because the show was all-ages, and it seemed she was slightly uncomfortable singing it.) But there were also renditions of “Bleeding All Over You” and “Jesus and Mary” — stripped down, unproduced and beautiful.

I was fully prepared to leave the theater by 9 p.m., but tiny KT Tunstall, ultra-charming in a ponytail, a silver, glittery tank top and a Scottish accent, knocked the wind out of me. I didn’t know any of her songs except for “Suddenly I See,” made famous in the movie The Devil Wears Prada. I figured it was all going to be poppy schmaltz. Instead, Tunstall hit the crowd over and over again with ballsy rock and roll, never once losing the crowd, and getting everyone to their feet dancing more than once.

Martha Wainwright’s Web site
KT Tunstall’s Web site


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