On Thursday night, Marika Hackman threw what she called a “birthday party” for her new album, I’m Not Your Man, which was due out “in a matter of hours,” since it would be going live on streaming sites at midnight, after the gig. So, in fact, it was more of a pre-birthday party. And, speaking of things In Utero, you could have easily mistaken Hackman for a reincarnation of Kurt Cobain as she stepped out onto the stage for her performance; long, wavy, slightly dirty blonde hair, plaid shirt, and a Fender affixed to her slender frame. Hackman and her compatriots had donned angel wings for the occasion (except the drummer who instead sported devil horns), which added to the 90s grunge feeling – and was certainly appropriate for the venue, Heaven. Moreover, the performance that followed rocked hard, channelling the spirit of those alt-rock bands.

Hackman and co. kicked off the set with the sneering, scorning ‘Good Intentions’ from the new album, and immediately the crowd was bouncing along with the song, especially when they turned the throttle up to full for the first time of the night in that “yeahyeahyeah” breakout chorus.

Although I’m Not Your Man had not been officially released at the time of the gig, the setlist pulled largely from the new album, with Hackman evidently wanting to show off her new penchant for loud guitars over the softer side that she had become known for in her previous output. This was a strong decision, as her band pulled out all the stops to ensure that these songs sounded massive and engulfing. Throughout the show, the guitarist and bassist were bobbing and weaving along with the riffs as they played, moving back and forth behind their leader like pistons in a roaring engine.

The audience in attendance would probably have been thrilled to get such a sensational preview of the new material, as it was evidently made up of mainly hardcore Hackman fans. When she played ‘My Lover Cindy’, which has only been online a month, there was audible singing along, particularly in the part where the backing drops out and Hackman sings solo “I’m a lousy lover, even if I try/ I can go for a week and the feeling’s calcified,” which must have been a satisfying moment for the performer. She then appeased those die-hards with a couplet of older, more obscure tracks from EPs, ‘Cinnamon’ and ‘Deep Green’, which both sat nicely in the dark rock mood that the band had curated with their set.

The only two songs from her previous full length We Slept At Last that made the set were the back to back couplet of ‘Ophelia’ and ‘Open Wide’. While some may have been disappointed not to hear more of her back catalogue, it was evident that Hackman was not in the least bothered with engaging in this appeasement, as she and her band blasted their way through more new songs. Even those that could possibly have been bemused by her setlist choice could not have watched the tumultuous guitar and vocal interplay of ‘Violet’, the smouldering rendition of ‘Gina’s World’, or the ultra-fun bounce along to new single ‘Boyfriend’ and not left wanting to hear I’m Not Your Man as soon as possible.

Hackman returned to the stage for an encore, kicking off with a solo track ‘Cigarette’, which was put out online last week. It was a beautiful moment that reminded everyone of the delicateness with which Hackman can write and perform, should she choose to. However, this birthday party was all about rocking out, and her partners in noise returned to the stage for the final song, the slow and sultry builder ‘Blahblahblah’, which sent us away with our heads spinning, and more than a few exchanges of “I can’t wait to hear the album tomorrow!” Mission firmly accomplished for Marika Hackman and her band.

Marika Hackman Heaven