I remember seeing Marika Hackman when she first started performing and was playing with a full band back in 2011 and since being signed has grown into one of my favourite recording singer/songwriters with her quirky and innovative chord choices and hauntingly beautiful lyrics.
I have also seen her perform a few times as a solo artist and fallen in love with her unique style although I had missed the band members from the early days which were able to re-create the high production and electronic sounds on her records.
Having said this I arrived at The East Wing – which I thought was a very ‘interesting’ choice of venue for Marika’s sound and was excited to see that she had with her a drummer and a keyboard/sample player. But due to the fact that artists are only able to line-check rather than having a proper full sound check, Marika’s sound for the first number was really bad with her vocals and the drums being far too loud and without the classic reverb which is so prevalent in Hackman’s music. Fortunately this was just the fault of the sound engineer and by the time the second/third song came about, they’d sorted it out and her live sound suddenly became really exciting and Hackman was back to her usual ethereal and mystical sounding self.
The remainder of the set was much better and I was really impressed with the new line up – especially the drummer who was both delicate but with the right amount of drive and interesting rhythms. I also found Marika songs came across so much better with these added beats and electronic melodies which is so core to her sound. Sadly though, I was disappointed to find something lacking in Marika’s performance and she even commented herself saying ‘you might have realised by now that I’m quite an awkward talker!’ and whilst this does add to her introverted and mysterious charm, I often found my eyes drifting away to the other members of the band and equipment being used rather than focussing on Marika as a front woman.
There was also a lot of dead space in between songs where Marika had to keep asking the sound engineer for ‘more of this’ or ‘less of that’ in her monitor which ruined the fluidity of the set and made the atmosphere a little jagged. Whilst this wasn’t my favourite gig of Marika Hackman’s, I was nevertheless captivated with the new line up and the live sound that she’s created, so I am looking forward to seeing her again but maybe in a venue which suits her style much more.