Friday, 28 September 2007


There had been mention that Martha was going to put in an appearance at Rufus's show at the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday night, and we were not disappointed. She stomped on stage in high heels and a satin dress that she really didn't seem comfortable in, judging by the amount of fiddling with it she did, and how often she yanked at it!

Rufus had sort of fluffed his way charmingly through a good few songs - though there were several that he did brilliantly - but it was with utter joy that we could sit back, relax, and watch Martha let loose on this ripper. Such a voice! It can be big and belting, and then tiny and childlike, smooth or husky, steady and quavering. And this song seemed absolutely perfect for her - she brought the house down.

Later, she returned to the stage with their mum, Kate McGarrigle, which was a further treat, and she sang - brilliantly again - Someone to Watch Over Me, dedicated to her brand-new husband of just two weeks. Aaaah! By this time we were in the encores, and Rufus, who had come out to do a previous number in Judy Garland drag, was now in his bathrobe, stockings and men's shoes - so there was a very humorous, laidback ambience, with much family banter between the three.

The next night, at the minuscule Hotel Cafe, off Hollywood Boulevard, was a far more intimate show. Martha was on stage for exactly an hour, from 9 to 10pm, and was the middle act of three scheduled for the night - but she was the headliner as far as were were concerned. So tiny was this place that Dave had been at the bar buying a drink when Martha came up and ordered a beer right next to him! And she had to walk right by me to get on the little corner stage - I'd snaffled a spot right up the front, and was only about 3m away from her.

She was very funny and warm, and joked a lot with the crowd - if you could call 50 people a crowd - about guitar keys, bootleg recordings and lyrics. A couple of times she started a song and swore when she realised the words had eluded her! But the crowd helped.

She did a few new songs and some of her more familiar stuff (Factory, the Car Song), and again we were knocked out by the variety of tone and depth of her voice. And she sings with her entire body, stamping her feet and getting right into it - if you watch the clip above of her doing Stormy Weather you'll see what I mean.

We'd been curious to see if Rufus or Kate McG would appear, and while Rufus was absent (probably recovering from what Martha said had been a big night the night before), Mum was there and came on stage to play on several numbers, and sang along with that unique, delicately warbly but distinct voice of hers. Oh it was wonderful, and we were so lucky!

As an encore, Martha and Kate sang a French (French-Canadian?) song, Barbara (with a break in the middle while Martha conferred with the audience over some of the words), and then Kate retired and Martha sang You Bloody Motherfucking Asshole, her heartfelt tribute to her dad, Loudon Wainwright III.

At 10 on the dot it was all over. Martha left the stage, the crowd thinned, and David and I walked off to the car and our two-hour drive back to San Diego. What a brilliant, brilliant weekend we'd had with the Wainwrights!

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