Martha Wainwright, Royal Festival Hall, London

Royal Festival Hall, London

Martha Wainwright was famously loath to follow her brother Rufus, mother Kate McGarrigle and father Loudon Wainwright III into a musical career. Such reticence, while understandable, now appears entirely misguided, as this powerful show indicates that she may become the most compelling performer in her venerable family.

Her new album, I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too, is a masterclass in complex sophisto-pop, but tonight Martha has come as a sex kitten. Newly blond in knee-high boots, she spends the first half of the show wrestling her micro-skirt as it rides up her thighs. "Top Shop told me I was a size 8," she apologises. "I guess they were wrong."

Wainwright's forte is lush, bruised songs about being a woman done wrong, and she throws herself into them with gawky gusto, slaloming through the octaves on Bleeding All Over You and belting out the strident Comin' Tonight in something approaching a banshee wail. She is magnificent on You

Cheated Me, a howl of anguish at being betrayed that is worthy of her beloved Fleetwood Mac.

But Wainwright is far too keen to take the back seat. Welcoming a string of guests, including Ed Harcourt, Beth Orton, the Magic Numbers' Romeo Stodart and human beatbox Shlomo, she cheerily reverts to backing-singer mode as they all play their own material. It may be a sign of her famous insecurities, but it is a mistake. A coruscating encore of Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole provides all the evidence required: far from being a chip off the familial block, Martha Wainwright is a brilliant one-off.

· At Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow (0141-353 8000), tomorrow. Then touring.


Ian Gittins

The GuardianTramp

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