Perhaps more famous for her decade long period as (to quote Jerri Blank) “a boozer, a user and a loser” than for her music, it appeared Marianne Faithfull had long put those days behind her during the first of three sold-out shows at Melbourne’s Forum Theatre on Friday night, following her recent appearance at the Sydney Festival – the gravel-voiced songstress strode on stage at 8pm sharp with nothing stronger than a tall glass of water for refreshment.
Faithfull’s brisk set leaned heavily on material from her new, mammoth double-disc album Easy Come, Easy Go – in fact, she performed only six other songs from throughout her entire career: her debut single As Tears Go By, Sister Morphine, Crazy Love (from late-career highlight, 2006’s flawless Before The Poison), and three selections from her master-work, 1979’s Broken English.
The biggest cheers of the night were reserved for those three songs, including the blistering rock-funk kiss-off Why’d Ya Do It. It’s obvious Faithfull still loves delivering such cracking lines as “She had cobwebs up her fanny and I believe in giving to the poor,” some 30-odd years after the song’s release.
Faithfull’s voice was surprisingly strong throughout – while it’s certainly a cracked, somewhat unsubtle instrument, it still holds a lot of power and perfectly conveys the world-weary emotion of songs like The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan or the urgent passion of her cover of Neko Case’s Hold On, Hold On.
And for someone with a reputation as something of a prickly performer, Faithfull was surprisingly effusive and sweet, profusely thanking the audience as she bowed politely after each song. By the time she stopped the concert mid-set to reapply her lippy, telling the audience that we were really just guests in her drawing room, few would have argued.

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