21 June 2006

Martha Wainwright & Gomez @ Paradise Rock Club

There is a difference, I'm learning, between a good musician and one that puts on a good show. Martha Wainwright seems to be the former but not the latter--her vocal style is mature and nuanced, but her stage presence is oddly unfocused. This is devastating but not uncommon in openers, I guess, since they're not the goal of most of the audience, and since their level of experience is generally a bit lower. Martha did a sharp, full-bodied performance on a song called "Ball and Chain" that was a great demo of her capabilities (although, um, it's kind of a dumb song)--and I'm still pleased with her for the collaboration she did with Snow Patrol, which seems to be better than the usual caliber of either party.

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Something that I'm thinking about doing more consistently is talking about the influences of the artists I talk about, to try and remedy a bit of the historical disconnect in the musical blogosphere. Martha's particularly easy, since her family history's pretty visible in her music: she grew up with her mom, Kate McGarrigle of The McGarrigle Sisters, and her vocals definitely show their tone, although like most heritage musicians, she's updated, sharpened and darkened, ended up with more of a post-folk sound than her predecessors. Below is "Year of the Dragon," from The McGarrigle Hour.

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For Gomez, I went in absolutely cold--never heard of 'em, never heard 'em, and damn, these guys are good. Their look is a mix of hipster-skinny (that's Ian, I think) and philosophy-grad, Meloy-glasses-wearing slubby (that'd be Ben and Tom, if I've got the names mapped right); their vocals are nicely mixed, too, with Ian's reedy tenor and Ben's hoarser tone. Both good musicians and good performers; their music was instantly attractive, and the audience responded well, rocking out pretty strongly for a place where the crowd is pretty orthodox indie, and all this despite persistent gremlins taking out various mikes during the show. Despite the occasional missing channel, the sound was good--all the individual lines were distinct and they came together well. Not only are these guys good, they put on a good show (Eels, take note!).

Funny--I ended up having more to say about Martha than about Gomez, even though Gomez definitely did the better show. Gomez is just awesome, but their influences are a little opaque to me I guess.

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