Laura Marling [Live]


I approach a Laura Marling performance with a little bit of tension. When you’re with someone who is slightly on-edge there will be a feeling in the atmosphere that will have an effect on you – you’ll be aware of the others discomfort. Marling has spoken of her anxiety associated with playing live, and in the past this has added a tenseness to her performances. Marling can perform with an almost unbearable rawness - she has the rare ability to make you feel exactly as she does. She can carefully and comprehensively dismantle the part of your brain that deals with empathy and sentiment, and leave you disarmed and at her mercy.

She walked on stage, alone, dressed in a snow-white dress – a picture of virginity. Her latest record ‘Once I Was An Eagle’ is an expression of strength, and it put to canvas the maturation of a girl and the opening of an innocents eyes. I think this is part of the reason why she is touring on her own. She is going it alone, and doesn’t need the security, or help, of a band. If not something that would strike you as obvious, this certainly affects the show.

She opened with the first track from the new album ‘Take The Night Off’; this went into the second, third, fourth and fifth from the record. They all merged into one, and flowed faultlessly. They work together, and with their marriage of muscular lyrics and slow-burning guitar, perfectly represent her emotional and musical growth.

Amongst a set of complete beauty I will go through the songs that I thought were particularly special. ‘Rambing Man’ was delivered with complete perfection. Marling hit every note with a loving efficiency. Even the further reached notes seem to just happen, without any fuss or thought at all. A voice of such natural elegance is extremely rare.

The sadness of ‘Goodbye England’ was tripled after a brief story about her old life in Shepherds Bush, and her new one in L.A. The performance of the song only teased the tenderness that we all felt.

Her appeal was unanimously appreciated, and the crowd clung to everything they could, and embraced everything they were given. Each rare word was greeted with disproportionate laughter or applause, and the completion of every song was marked with adoring praise. Such adoration was generously dished out in response to a story we were told about the purchasing of the dress that she was wearing. Apparently the woman in the Dublin based shop had presumed that it was going to be worn at a fancy dress party. The story was concluded with a sheepish smile. Wide eyed, we all took a collective deep breath, exhaling dreamily.

‘Sophia’ recovered from a faltering start to end strongly. It felt a little bit empty without the band that plays in the recorded version, but the change in dynamic worked. Marling finished with ‘Where Can I Go’, and denied us an encore. I am a fan of ending on a high, but a few more songs would not have been a problem.

The set felt a tiny bit brief. Marling was on stage for just over an hour and I think that everybody was left feeling touched, but still hungry. She is utterly charming, and she has also written some of the best folk songs of the past 10 years. There was a sense of strength in her performance, and the delivery of her songs was flawless and beautiful. Marling is the queen of modern folk music and she is developing a strong arm with which she will keep this position.