Entering Exeter University’s Lemon Grove, I was greeted with one of the most diverse audiences I have seen at a gig, from middle aged folkies to students,from trendy teenagers to biker rockers. It was apparent just how much of society Martha Wainwright’s music can appeal to.

But first, the reasonably sized audience got a taste of Teddy Thompson. The son of Richard and Linda, like Martha he has inherited some musical blue blood. His songs sometimes didn’t quite have a final touch, that flourish of greatness, but most were close. His strong voice made them all enjoyable. Even those in the crowd initially put off by the country rock styling of his band seemed won over by the end, and it wasn’t too difficult to see why.He has received plaudits from 'Uncut' and 'Mojo'. Unfortunately, at present, he probably wouldn’t get them in any other national magazines, but singer songwriter junkies needn’t be put off by that.

Martha Wainwright, however, has managed to step outside her base. I entered the concert expecting a decent singer-songwriter. Perhaps I had a slight air of cynicism, that her name is the reason for her elevation above other -equally gifted - singers. This evaporated as the crowd gathered to see her set as I anticipated the start of the show and a good thing too, for it may have clouded my appreciation of a very fine show.

Initial songs were greeted with reverence (not undeserved) from the crowd, but Martha quickly stifled this with some amusing comments and this cloying mood was shattered entirely when she scabbed a smoke from someone in the front rows. After a charged take on ‘Street Fighting Man’, (after which she commented, “just a bit of fun”) the crowd were completely with her. Martha treated us to solo songs, a duet with Teddy Thompson (stepping into the breach for Rufus Wainwright, who is on the studio version) and some lovely piano jazz. A Cole Porter cover was probably the highpoint of her set.

Quite frankly, my writing skills are being tested to their limits to express how much I enjoyed this concert. In a venue where performances rarely last more than an hour, Martha was on stage for nearly two. I was so absorbed I didn’t notice. A night of good banter and good songs, and it made for an outstanding concert and me a believer.









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Commenting On: Lemon Grove, Exeter, 17/11/2005 - Martha Wainwright/Teddy Thompson








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