22nd November | Thekla

2017 has seemingly been quite the successful year for Marika Hackman. Off the back of the release of her second album proper, the delightfully personal progression in sound of ‘I’m Not Your Man’, Marika has been receiving some deservedly high praise for the brazenly sharp and melodious set of songs that it makes up. On evidence of this evening’s show at Thekla, critical praise has obviously transcended into public appraisal also, as Hackman sells out the 400-capacity iron claddings to the literal rafters. This doesn’t go over the humble Hackman’s head, as she mentions of previous appearances at this very venue, “I remember playing upstairs a few years ago, and five people were here, so it’s really nice to be back”, when one member of the audience exclaims to of been at that show, Marika endearingly replies “you’re a legend”. It’s an exciting point to see Marika live, but also a mild celebration, where steps taken have led to very invigorating outcomes.

Our Girl are the perfect choice of support to lead into Marika’s set, as they rock a little harder, express a little more tenderness and provide just as much of a full-bodied, considered sound. Soph Nathan – also of The Big Moon and thus the accompanying band that recorded on Hackman’s aforementioned latest record – limbers around the stage, thrashing her guitar as her hair masks her face, evoking a sense of united liberation between the trio as they trail through their impressively assured set. They are a much more vociferous proposition live than on record, taking their residual rhythms and drawing out a bolder, more sonorous noise from within, ‘Being Around’ shimmers as Nathan delivers with a confident balance of wrenching exasperation and accommodating benevolence. They wring great amounts of expressiveness from their usually more cohesive recordings, ‘Boring’s modest introductions knitting into raw noise as Nathan suddenly ignites unadulterated, cacophonous improvisation. It’s a rousing opening, the quality of sound on offer significant in providing the atmospheric heaviness of Our Girl’s eager and rasping music.

It’s an immediate sweep to the front following Our Girl from the sold-out crowd, keen to be within the throng for Marika’s anticipated set. They are rewarded, as Hackman delivers a set that spans stand outs from early, favoured EPs to the mould-breaking hits that have welcomed Hackman to a new, wider audience.

What’s immediately observable is just how much Hackman and band are enjoying playing on this tour, despite having a played for a solid week and Marika admitting that her voice is feeling a little strained quite jovially mid-song. ‘My Lover Cindy’ grooves deeply, the poppy nature of the new songs evidently finding something full and flamboyant within the sardonic nature of Hackman’s lyricism, while ‘So Long’ trembles under its bopping bass line, all before euphorically bouncing into a bright, unflinching chorus. The older tracks are given a makeover by the full-band combination, ‘Ophelia’s fragile brightness developing a darker, bolder personality from the live addition of sweeping drums and grasping electric guitar, while still ringing the atmospheric consideration of the yearning track.

The added animation that Marika brings to her live performance now fortifies a sense of cohesiveness amongst her whole set, the gnawing shade that she hints at on early songs like ‘Open Wide’ and later deep-cut ‘Majesty’ giving her loud, brash sound a sense of intriguing character, one that Hackman summons with poise live. Closing out with the excellent ‘Blahblahblah’, this is cemented, Hackman embracing the vulnerable aspects of her music’s character as the band leave to a chorus of harmonies that are emphatically bright and communicative. The future was already bright for Marika Hackman based on the record alone, following with a live show like this only magnifies such notions.

Watch the video for ‘My Lover Candy’ below.