LIVE: Marika Hackman @ Concorde 2, Brighton

The indie idol's sexual subject matter transcends generations on the South Coast
Posted: 10 March 2020 Words: James Erskine
After several years away, Marika Hackman returns to Brighton; glancing around, oddly and noticeably, there's a stark contrast between the very old and very young individuals in the audience, as an almost full room awaits Hackman's arrival.

Surreptitiously, a keys' player enters Concorde 2's stage and pads chords in the retro-ominous style of The X-Files, Hackman's name emblazoned in retro-bubble word-art behind him. Hackman and her band join him on stage and break the tension with crowd pleaser 'the one'. The younger section of the audience delight in the PG-18 lyrics and many of them are already waving their arms in the air, like the hippies of yore.

Hackman is front and centre in a symmetrical lineup; guitar, bass and drums. Uniform in black goth-wear. They rip into 'My Lover Cindy' reminding us of the quality and depth of Hackman’s discography. There are ethereal backing vocals beneath a garage-rock four chord structure; Hackman’s tobacco sunburst Stratocaster catches the bright red stage lights as the room fills with sound.
The live set is generally much heavier than many of the most popular recorded tracks. As the harmonies hop up a register, the audience graduates from bop to light mosh.

'all night' brings with it a change in tempo; ballad-like, with three-part harmonies, later to be breached by a Josh Homme-style guitar solo. Up next, “a little funky one, it’s kinda groovy.” There is a bluesy interplay in call-and-response, but with a staccato rock-funk backbeat to liven it up.

'wanderlust' restores calm to the evening, yet there remains a kind of feverish euphoria as the band departs, leaving Hackman on stage alone. The purity of her voice reverberates around the hall as the audience falls silent for the first time, as a ferocious wind beats against the door outside. One audience member is heard to say “I love that sad voice shit,” maybe a little louder than intended, however. Hackman commences with her melancholic solo tracks, reminiscent of Irish folk music, with open cadences book-ending each verse.

'Cigarette' rounds out her solo segment, the venue's solitary light pointing directly at Hackman; literally, this is where her musicality truly shines.

Band introductions follow, before a finale in 'blow', acting as a catalyst for the crowd to move as though released from a spell. The encore is high energy; more hits in quick succession; a cascade of phase and flanger-soaked virtuosity. Importantly, and most refreshingly however, it's Hackman’s world-weary, self-deprecating and overtly sexual lyrics feel lovingly embraced by generations young and old.

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