Marika Hackman – The Rainbow, Birmingham

Since the beginning of 2015, the blogosphere had been set alight by Marika Hackman’s mournful alt-folk. Having first released an extensive EP in 2013, she followed it up with the sublime ‘We Slept At Last’ which was hailed as a critical masterpiece. Her reputation as an artist very much on the rise was evidently noted in Birmingham as The Rainbow venue was packed out for tonight’s show. Despite the multi-textural quality of her debut, Marika takes to the stage without any accompaniment from a backing band and instead has two guitars for company.

This appeared relatively surprising until she begins to sing and you comprehend her abilities to achieve the ghostly tones of the debut with the simplistic guitar strings and that ominous vocal. The echoed amp really emphasises her voice during ‘Claude’s Girl’ as the entire audience remains in an entranced state as Marika coos the melody while the notes travel to all corners of the intimate venue. Between these moments of somber concentration, Hackman is a wonderfully charismatic performer and builds an instant connection with the crowd and shows a wonderful sense of humanity after forgetting the lyrics of ‘Next Year’, which she confessed to have also done the previous evening.

The distressing ‘Drown’ was a personal highlight as you can feel its melancholic devastation affecting each crowd member in their own personal way as if sitting within some decadent seance as our female medium appears to be singing to spirits. Marika is aware of her somber musical tone and jovially introduces ‘Monday Afternoon’ as yet another ‘happy, clap along number’ which evokes laughter from her audience and although this track heavily relies on percussion in recorded state it has just the same startling effect when stripped to its very skeleton. A finale of a balefully performed ‘Let Me In’ brings the largest applause of the evening and Marika leaves stage confessing the Birmingham audience to be her personal favourites so far. A songwriter and performer with integrity, modesty and an alarming amount of talent who is likely to follow in the footsteps of collaborator and confidante Laura Marling.

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