Live Review

Marnie Stern, The Lexington, London

It is impossible not to laugh or be won over by her charm.

Despite being her third London show in the past 48 hours, Marnie Stern doesn’t look tired. She steps on stage beaming at the packed crowd upstairs at The Lexington, grabs her guitar and she is ready to go.

For this tour, in support of her third album, she seems to have found a comfortable live setup. Behind the complexity of her recorded work the basic Marnie sound is kickass guitar lines, hyperkinetic drums and poetic cheerleader chants, all of which shine through tonight.

Tracks from each of her albums get an airing, all played with same affirmative intensity and all sound as vital as when they were first released.

In the past I’ve seen her use a greater range of effects on stage to try to reproduce the album tracks, occasionally to the detriment of a smooth live set. By getting the most out of a simple setup and with the help of a little bit of volume to fill the sound out it avoids such frustrations. And besides, when you get to see Marnie in high spirits you get just as much value from her sick sense of humor as from the music.

With constant unabashed musings about her “vagine” it is impossible not to laugh or be won over by her charm. When the jokes end, she grins across at the other two band members and launches into a song.

Her guitar acts as a medium, projecting her personality onto the audience. You can feel the energy and positivity in each of her fist in the air power chords, in every intricate note tapped out by her fingers as they flit across the frets. Everyone is nodding along to the galloping pace, as if frantically agreeing with everything she says. And often I find that I am. Her lyrics could be taken from the script of a motivational speaker (“In order to see it, you’ve got to believe it”), but sung so sweetly and convincingly I’m ready to sign up for the Stern philosophy.

Near the end of the set she puts down her guitar but doesn’t bother to leave the stage as immediately there are calls for more. I think she was actually giving the instrument a break from her frenetic shredding rather than resting herself before the final few numbers.

You get a lot of things when come to a Marnie Stern show: Marnie the comedian, Marnie the motivator, but most importantly Marnie the musician.

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