Since her twirl as a Burberry model and the beauty of her nu-folk inspired debut album We Slept at Last, Marika Hackman has delved through the main realms that an aspiring artist must take. Having expanded her sound and broadened her dialect, Hackman has built up to the eccentric humour of her alt-pop second album I’m Not Your Man. Now presented in the backstreet of Manchester’s Gorilla, it soon becomes clear that the “folk” label that had been pressed upon her following her debut record has now been, not thrust aside, but elevated and expanded upon.
Supporting Hackman’s Manchester introduction to her album was Brighton-based trio Our Girl. A captivating appreciation fell over the audience, as there was almost a sigh of relief, as the crowd discovered the brooding rock of the new act. Similarly to our Northern competitors, The Orielles – though perhaps a more grown-up version of the aforementioned – Our Girl present moody, instrumental rock tracks thrust forward with a hedonistic performance and husky vocals. This slightly more sultry version of a similar genre and set-up is perhaps due to the helping-hand of Our Girls debut album producer Bill Ryder-Jones. The magnetic, raspy symphony of BRJ’s talent trickles through Our Girl, whilst also making the stage their own and easily presenting them as ones-to-watch.
Our headliner takes to the stage with guitar in hand and a flick of her renowned mane of honey-like blonde hair, an easy flow of pop tracks with a lipstick-stained smear of grunge is presented. A subtle recollection of 80’s guitar plucks are felt through certain tracks including ‘Gina’s World’ which presents a melodic appraisal to the unknown Gina and the dark story which seems to encompass both singer and Gina. Guitar chords strummed to the beat of a Nirvana-like sound is demonstrated similarly by ‘Cigarette’ which Marika presents as a solo piece for her applauded penultimate encore. A tale of an argument coming to a head the song showcases the beauty and talent that Hackman holds whilst the glare of a bright white spotlight gives more reason for each person in the room to be astounded.
But the grunge is also combined with a Britpop flare translated with the heightened sense of fun from tracks such as ‘My Lover Cindy’ and ‘Time’s a Reckless’. The latter is a whole-hearted toe-taper which presents the mastery of Hackman‘s backing band – who are worth noting in their own right – The Big Moon. Finally we have the favoured anthem ‘Boyfriend’ which is a witty stick-poke at the unjust belief by a woman’s boyfriend that a “woman really needs a man to make her scream”. The track sets the whole room into a furor of admiration as Marika tells the tale of eloquently stealing a man’s girlfriend without him noticing but of course “no one takes us seriously just because I wear a dress.” It’s been a track – and even an album – of the season, highlighting Marika’s own beliefs and hailing her as an LGBTQ icon.