Celtic Connections: Martha Wainwright @ Old Fruitmarket, 27 Jan

Article by Ryan Drever | 05 Feb 2009

As Teddy Thompson (**) kicks off tonight's festivities, most of the largely middle-aged crowd inside the Old Fruitmarket seem attentive and fairly satisfied by the clean-cut Englishman’s own brand of straight-forward easy-listening. It's easy to see Thompson’s basic appeal, but this inoffensive, play-it-safe set fails to catch fire.

The difference in reception for Martha Wainwright (****), however, is immediately evident upon; the entire crowd -from balcony to bar- remains hushed and in awe for the duration of her stripped-down set. Having just flown in two hours prior from London - where the folk songstress has been lending her tones to the Royal Ballet's performance of Seven Deadly Sins- and looking surprisingly unflustered, Wainwright is remarkably casual, taking the lack of a sound check and the general rush of the day in her stride and to charming effect.

A few stop-starts aside, the selection of songs reverberate around the fairy-lit walls dramatically, lending songs like Jimi and My Heart Is Bleeding All Over You a heightened dramatic appeal. An under-rehearsed duet with Thompson on The Beatles' We Can Work It out both wows and humours, whilst a soaring rendition of Baby caps off a laid-back yet ultimately stunning performance.