Marika Hackman @ The Caves, Edinburgh, 26 Feb
Marika Hackman returns to Edinburgh for an energetic show with plenty of "saucy" moments
If one thing can be said about Marika Hackman, it’s that she’s versatile. From the ethereal mystique of her earliest EPs to the riot grrrl energy of her sophomore record I’m Not Your Man, Hackman has proven that she doesn’t quite fit into any mould as an artist, and she’s not about to apologise for it.
Her latest release, last summer’s endearingly titled Any Human Friend, was something of a renaissance. Whilst maintaining the riotous energy of I’m Not Your Man, Hackman dipped her toes back into the alt-folk and choral influences of her earlier work as well as venturing into the unchartered waters of pop and electronica.
Tonight, in the vaulted interior of Edinburgh’s The Caves, Hackman's band are dressed in matching navy boiler suits. Opening the set is the throbbing, slightly menacing Blahblahblah, and it becomes clear that the crowd is already won over. Without a word in between, they launch into the swirling riff of the one, Hackman transforming into the song’s pop star sell-out protagonist as she proclaims, ‘I’m a god-sent gift / And all you fuckers want my dick’.
On stage Hackman is effortlessly cool; charismatic without a touch of arrogance. “This one’s a saucy little number”, she grins, and the crowd seems to thrill at what’s coming. all night is an explicit and unapologetic celebration of sex, in particular, sex between women. “It's explicit but it's not in a derogatory way,” she explained in an interview with Dork, “it's all about that experience from both sides... You don’t hear that perspective so much.” Now, she smiles into the mic as her lyrics are sung back to her – ‘We go down on one another / You’re my favourite kind of lover’ – clearly delighted to hear her raunchiest lyrics on the lips of a crowd.
A select few of the more rocky oldies also make an appearance in the setlist, including the original “saucy little number” – the steamy, yearning Violet from 2017’s I’m Not Your Man. But the highlight comes midway through the set – after send my love unfolds into fuzzy noise, Hackman announces with just a hint of a smile, “this song is about masturbating.” It’s truly beautiful to be in a room full of people dancing to hand solo, celebrating a topic so wildly underdiscussed as female self-pleasure. The audience shouts along with more passion than ever to what are perhaps the best lyrics on the record – ‘I gave it all / But under patriarchal law / I’m gonna die a virgin’ – revealing a palpable sense of unity in the crowd which is surely what Hackman set out to achieve.
Much too soon, the band vacates the stage. But Hackman quickly returns solo to raucous applause, armed with an acoustic guitar. “Now it’s time for the really depressing shit,” she says, before settling into her sombre ballad Cigarette, followed by a cover of Elliott Smith’s Between the Bars. After a heavy set, her stripped back voice feels like a secret power – it’s sweet and modest, and all the more special for having waited.