Martha Wainwright El Mocambo, Toronto ON March 22

Martha Wainwright El Mocambo, Toronto ON March 22
Martha Wainwright walked alone onto the El Mocambo stage with her guitar slung around her neck and launched straight into her first track, after which she announced she would be playing "all new songs tonight, if that's all right." The second track felt quite disjointed with its bare chords and some impressive almost yodel-like wailing, which garnered applause mid-song. After messing up the third track, Wainwright stopped and announced she would instead play a similar song, her first written about motherhood. When the crowd failed to be quiet, she stopped again and chastised the audience, telling them to "shut the fuck up, just for three minutes." After a few more songs, she reneged on her promise and sung a couple of older numbers, starting with "Factory," which she said was "in honour of the music business," segueing into a great rendition one of her most Nashville-tinged tracks "When the Day Is Short." This was followed by a relatively unknown song written by her late mother, Kate McGarrigle, in which Wainwright displayed more of her vocal prowess. Appropriately for a Belle Province showcase, the Montreal-born singer ended on "This Life" with its French and English verses. Wainwright's voice was at once strong and deliciously raw, its solo guitar accompaniment unnervingly sparse. Despite the disjointed and shambolic nature of the show, the emotion was true in a way that too few performances are. Moments of raw beauty sat uncomfortably next to those of amateurish foible, making it unclear at times as to whether you were witnessing a sub-par performance or a special moment of musical intimacy with a compelling artist.