23rd April 2010
Southampton, Guild Hall
I have had Laura Marling’s albums on repeat for months on end and have truly fallen for her gentle New-Folk sound. Hence I was understandably very eager to catch her live. Her current tour has travelled across the UK and Europe with most dates having entirely sold out. The question is though, since her mainstream success has Miss Marling sold out too?
The answer is, (in my opinion), without a doubt- NO. I will admit that I prefer the innocent and naive sound of her debut album, but Laura definitely still knows how to impress a crowd. From her first steps on stage it was clear that Laura remains down to earth, dressed in jeans and an effortless cardy. For at least half the set Laura stood isolated on stage, with only a guitar and spotlight for company. Although she spoke very little, this only added to the mysterious allure of her music.
The set opened, inevitably, with Devil’s Spoke and swiftly journeyed through her hits, new and old. Including my personal favourite, Ghosts, what’s more she even managed to slip a Neil Young cover in there. If you’ve listened to Laura’s new album then it seems Rambling Man is a unanimous fav. This particular track is bustling with passion and force, but, (correct me if you disagree), it didn’t seem to transfer well live. I adore the energy of the line “the weak need to be lead”, however, this simply disappeared.
That said, Marling’s voice was flawless throughout. She even threw in a moving tale about the meaning behind Goodbye England and the bizarre Pagan story found in Made By Maid. Although a lot of the set was predictable, who doesn’t like some safe predictability? Laura did sneak in a quick rendition of hidden track Alas I Cannot Swim, found at the end of her debut album. Plus, a couple of new songs, declaring “I’m going to play a new song … because I can”. Who knew she was also a talented comedian!
Moving on, and slightly back, the supports were both fantastic. Boy and Bear opened with a Fleet Foxes style set. Most of their songs sounded pretty similar, but having travelled all the way from Australia, you have to give them some credit. The second act was Alessi’s Ark. I’ve heard a few of her tracks before and wasn’t particularly taken. However, Alessi proved she is not just another would-be Marling. From the first note her vocals were crisp, elegant and as gentle as bird song. Her set was indisputably the unexpected highlight of the night!