LIVE REVIEW: Marika Hackman @ Soup Kitchen, Manchester (13/03/2014)
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So taboo has that word become in recent years that it would be completely understandable if you’d stopped reading this review and turned up your nose with revulsion. Immediately casting to mind visions of tweed-clad poshos self-indulgently strumming their banjos and moaning until they’re all flushed and sweaty, it’s no wonder that people daren’t look a folk artist in the eye again for the fear they’ll end up on some kind of register.
Enter Marika Hackman – here to claw back the genre’s credibility from the portentous clutches of Nu-Folk. Imagine Cate-le-Bon fronting Warpaint.
In the dingy Soup Kitchen basement, Marika’s arch commentary and stoner-rocker appearance made for an intriguing stage presence that (almost) managed to cloak the nervous youngster beneath.
Playing with a new backing band for just the third time tonight, Marika launched straight into the usually disarming sweetness of “Bath Is Black”. Regrettably a mixture of nerves and misjudged sound-checking instead caught the audience on the back-foot, as runaway drums failed to be muzzled at the sound desk until into the second track.
A minor mishap though in an otherwise surprisingly varied set. A grungy tang flavoured the guitar sound throughout and was used to terrific effect on a gnarled cover of Joanna Newsom’s “81”. New track “Deep Green” from current EP ‘Deaf Heat’ managed to capture a tormented uneasiness that sounded like Pentangle if they’d gone through a ‘Kid A’ phase. The graphic lyrical imagery of “Cannibal” illustrated her penchant for unsettling, wistful song-writing as delivered with lip-smacking relish as she recalled the “iron taste” of blood as it “runs down my face”. A swift acoustic interlude aptly exposed the jagged, brittle bones that make up the haunting skeleton hanging beneath her songs, before the band filed back on-stage to flesh them out again with a climactic “Cinnamon”.
Nu-Folk. Folk off. Post-Folk is here and it sounds like Marika Hackman.