Marika Brings The Noise for UK Tour! 2

Marika Hackman / Our Girl / Francobollo – Birmingham Mama Roux’s, 29/05/2017

Birmingham is happily quite well off for good live music venues, but the addition of Mama Roux’s to the fold last Autumn was welcome indeed; a charmingly eccentric venue, (indoor hanging baskets and faux wooden-shuttered windows!), with really friendly staff and excellent sound.

Tonight it plays host to a triple-bill; first up are Francobollo, whose angular guitar pop is consumed gratefully by the already sizeable audience, particularly closer ‘Worried Times’, the band’s new single which sounds something like local heroes Peace through an Ezra Furman filter. They are followed onto the stage by Brighton three-piece Our Girl, who have amongst their ranks Soph Nathan from The Big Moon (who are effectively the backing band on tonight’s headliner’s new album). They are received as if it is their own show; Our Girl are very loud and very, very good, recalling early 90s outfits such as See See Rider or perhaps Sidi Bou Said.

Which brings us nicely to Marika Hackman. Last time she played Birmingham, two years ago at the Rainbow (just yards away, around the corner), Hackman appeared solo with just guitar and voice as she worked her way through a mesmerizing set to a modestly sized, though highly attentive audience. It’s clear that things have changed as Hackman walks on with her band and a squall of distorted guitar announces ‘Good Intentions’ from the new, yet to be released album I’m Not Your Man (it’s out on 2nd June). It sets the scene for the performance that follows: the volume is up and the songs are largely from the new record. It seems like a re-birth, and the packed-in crowd respond with glee to the new material – when new single ‘My Lover Cindy’ arrives as the third song in the set, it is already greeted like an old classic. Those attending the aforementioned 2015 Rainbow show probably didn’t imagine in their wildest dreams that they would be faced by a (very friendly) mosh pit at Hackman’s next Second City gig. Hackman is clearly blown away by the reaction, and is full of smiles and ‘thank yous’ – she is a genuinely modest character and can’t hide her delight at the reception to, what is after all, mostly songs from an album that the crowd don’t even have access to yet!

‘Cinammon’, a song from 2013’s Sugar Blind EP is the oldest song on show tonight and is treated to an incendiary makeover, the song retains its structure but takes on a muscular form, thanks in no small part to the contributions of Jessica Batour, who is an unfussy, powerful drummer (the best type!) and Jelly Denniston who supplies some excellent bass. Guitarist Cam affords Hackman some freedom with her own playing – there is a great chemistry on stage between the four. “That’s the first time we have played that version”, says Hackman between songs. More cheers. “…This is all lovely!”

‘Deep Green’ from 2014’s Deaf Heat EP is a long-standing live favourite and makes a welcome appearance, again with the new treatment. Only two songs survive from 2015’s We Slept At Last, ‘Ophelia’ and ‘Open Wide’, which are played late on, back to back.

“It’s our last song” announces Hackman to good-natured boos. “Okay, so it’s not our last song, it’s our third last song”, she admits, before playing recent single ‘Boyfriend’, which manages to get an even greater audience reaction. The rest of the band then leave the stage, but Hackman stays put for an encore of ‘Cigarette’, done old-school style (just guitar and vocals) and then a full band ‘BlahBlahBlah’ sends an extremely hot audience home happy.


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