Search The Line of Best Fit
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Marika Hackman – Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London 18/03/14

19 March 2014, 11:00 | Written by George O'Brien

Since she first appeared with the eerie, fairy tale-like “You Come Down”, we’ve kept a close eye on Marika Hackman. Naming her as a ‘Folk Innovator‘ in our 2013 Ones To Watch, the Dirty Hit-signed singer-songwriter catches attention through her honeyed vocal, imaginative lyrical outlook and moments of gentle, colourful dissonance that project her music beyond the fabric of simple folk.

A UK tour brings Hackman to London for a sell-out headline show at Hoxton Square Bar and, following support from impressive newcomer Eaves, she takes to the stage flanked by a band for the first time. Opening with the typically mysterious ”Bath Is Black“, it is very quickly apparent how comfortable a performer she is: there is a focused, steely glare towards the back of the packed room as each captivating track is played out.

However, between songs we are offered endearing and genuinely humourous remarks, ranging from pre-show red wine-spilling to the black-eye her Dad received at the hands (head) of the Hackman family dog; “It was glorious” she says, half-apologetically through a shy smile.

These moments of comic relief are important alongside the intensity of her set. Echoes of Laura Marling’s more melancholic outings blend with the dark, subtly haunting sounds of collaborator Sivu and Joanna Newsome – who’s “’81″ is covered by Hackman - creating a transfixing live performance.

Her careful guitar playing, which encompasses deliberate metallic finger-picking to distorted FX-heavy, punk-nodding strumming, is bolstered by the new band: the twisted, nightmarish “Cannibal”, new single “Deep Green” and a hypnotic rendition of “Wolf” come to life with added depth thanks to rumbling drums and the peculiar range of squeaking synth lines she adopts so freely.

Despite the refreshing addition of the band, “Retina TV” and stunning set highlight “Itchy Teeth” are given space, stripped-back and performed solo with a confident, spine-tingling poise to the silent onlookers before a glimpse of 90′s punk-esque aggression bears its teeth in set-closer “Cinnamon“.

It’s a thoroughly eye-catching and entirely assured performance of dark folk from a young UK talent who continues to prove that, with thought-provoking imagination and unusual touches of colour, the singer-songwriter genre forever has the ability to possess.

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