Review: Sivu, Marika Hackman & Sam Russo @ The Portland Arms

In Cambridge for Christmas, JESSICA HOYLE takes in a gig at The Portland, calling Sivu and Marika Hackman’s collaboration “an inevitable success”…

Alt-J Cambridge drunk coupe gig review Indie Jessica Hoyle Marika hackman Marika Hackman & Sam Russo Music portland arms sam russo Sivu

“I’ll give you your money back if you just fucking leave” yelled Sivu at the Portland Arms tonight to what can only be described as the most annoying drunk couple I’ve seen at a gig yet…

Collaborations are not a rarity these days in the music world, and many come and go faster than you can say ‘hype’. The results of the newest collaboration between up and coming British artists Sivu and Marika Hackman, however, are quite inspiring. Produced by Charlie Andrew (producer of Alt-j’s Mercury prize winning An Awesome Wave) and combining the pop beats of Sivu with the ethereal alt-folk sound of Hackman, the track manages to be both hot and haunting, and is definitely worth more than a few listens. Meeting through Charlie Andrew, the pair have created two fantastic tracks that make us wait with increasing anticipation for their debut albums. All things considered, high expectations were placed on their co-headline gig.

As the talented Sam Russo took to the stage to open the night – after what he later told me had been a day that had included a 14-hour shift at the warehouse he works at in Cambridgeshire – the crowd unfortunately seemed disengaged with the singer’s mellow yet powerful sound.  The combination of an early set time, with the buzz of the bar and late arrivals created the wrong atmosphere for the set; a problem that has befallen many bands at the Portland Arms. To the dedicated attendees near the stage though, Russo’s set was fantastic and he is one to watch for the future.

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Next up was Marika Hackman, whose beguiling, delicate sound suddenly captured the audience and co-headliner alike, Sivu watching intently from the crowd. Following her latest EP ‘Sugar Blind’, which was released on December 9th, the highlight of Hackman’s set was her performing new tracks ‘Wolf’ and ‘Itchy Teeth.’ Her evocative songs and sheer beauty (she was previously a model for Burberry) had a mesmerising effect on everyone around her. As with Russo though, the choice of venue once again did not do justice to the performance. Hackman is the perfect performer for more intimate venues and the Portland lacked the atmosphere that her music relates to.

Sivu, named from the Finnish translation of his surname Page, plays an unparalleled set of fantastic songs. His individual voice, accompanied simply by a Gibson and keyboardist create simple yet memorable songs. His performance of ‘I lost Myself’ saw the crowd singing along to every word whilst other songs such as ‘Bodies’ and ‘God Speaks in Tongues’ had them in silent admiration.

The pinnacle of the evening began when Hackman joined Sivu on stage to perform their collaborative tracks, including the almighty ‘I hold.’ Their vocals and harmonies intertwine beautifully, and their live performance managed to top the recorded version, which in itself is one of the best tracks of the year. With albums from both artists in the pipeworks, the inevitable success of Sivu and Marika Hackman make them both acts to follow closely in 2014.

Click here to have a listen.