Review: Marika Hackman@ Gorilla, Manchester

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By Mia Abeyawardene

Marika Hackman, alternative rock multi-instrumentalist, is a musician on the rise. Many have compared her unique sound to Britpop and grunge bands of the 90s, while her songwriting displays intense emotions and vulnerability.

Arriving on Gorilla’s stage to the jazzy Sex and the City soundtrack, Marika Hackman and her band are ready to rock out. Opening the show with brooding sultry vocals, the whole crowd is swaying and bobbing along to ‘Good Intentions’.

After a couple of songs, a heckler shouts out: “What did you have for breakfast?” and Hackman playfully replies, “A croissant. But I will not be defined by my art.”

She refers to the next song as “an oldie”, as tinkly high notes and her delicate voice swim over the gentle bass on ‘Bath is Black’. A fast-paced drum beat and cowbells kick in for the stomping track ‘Deep Green’, creating an intensely serene atmosphere.

The band plays two tracks from Hackman’s 2015 EP, as ‘Ophelia’s beautifully poetic lyrics ‘she who walks alone in life is she sound of mind?’ contrast with the eerie electric guitar riffs on ‘Open Wide’.

While the rest of the band get ready for the next song, Hackman introduces bass player Jenny to share some jokes with the crowd. Jenny delivers several profession-related puns including: “I was gonna be a baker, but I couldn’t raise the dough”, which are received with loud cheers and hoots from the crowd.

Hackman smoothly segues into her next song saying “That’s enough laughter, it’s time to get miserable now. I can’t stand being happy”. She launches straight into the shoegazey ‘Gina’s World’, featuring hauntingly mesmerising vocals from her bandmates. The stage floods with blue, yellow and green light, evoking the colours of Hackman’s sophomore album ‘I’m Not Your Man’, released earlier this year.

During intense guitar shreds, Hackman and lead guitarist touch heads affectionately with their guitar necks crossed. The fans know all the words to ‘Time’s Been Reckless’, chanting the catchy rhyme “One, two, three, four, tell her that you love her more. Five, six, seven, eight, no more time, don’t be late’.

Announcing her last song, a few girls in the crowd climb on their friend’s shoulders to get a better view of Marika performing her hit single ‘Boyfriend’, which challenges male perceptions about lesbian relationships. The lights strobe with the cymbal crashes at the end of each chorus and everyone is jumping and singing along with pure joy.

A few minutes after leaving the stage, Marika returns to her fans for a solo performance of ‘Cigarette’ – with whispery vocals accompanying delicate finger picking on the guitar. She brings the rest of her band back to the stage for the slow waltz ‘Apple Tree’, before totally letting loose on the guitar solos of her final track ‘Blahblahblah’.

Marika Hackman thanks her Manchester fans many times throughout the gig for being a fabulous crowd, saying that she can’t wait to return to the city for her next show.

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Mia Abeyawardene

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