When I’d first considered the idea of Laura Marling playing a venue as large as the O2 Guildhall, I was fairly skeptical. I’d felt her performance would suffer as a result of a poor choice of venue, after I was left feeling disappointed when I’d seen her in London around three years ago.
How very wrong I was.
Perhaps it was the decision to have both a seated and standing area, or perhaps it was the addition of a larger band, but I can honestly say that I was duly impressed by Laura’s performance. Her support act, a country/folk singer-songwriter named Gill Landry, set exactly the right tone for the evening: his whisky coated vocals and lyrics about tragic romance were the ideal precursor to Laura’s set.
But it was Laura and her small band of fellow miscreants who really stole the show. From the moment she stepped onstage, Laura exhibited an air of a performer who’d truly reached her peak. Starting off with some softer songs from her latest album, Short Movie, she then began to play through what was essentially the first third from her last album Once, I was an Eagle. For some, this may have been a confusing choice, but as an avid admirer of Once…, it was an absolute joy.
Throughout the set, Laura played with almost complete confidence. Even the minor blips were excusable, as they were accompanied by a dose of her endearingly natural stage presence. There were no gimmicks or posturing, Laura relied almost entirely upon some excellently chosen and adapted music to earn the admiration of her audience. Some songs, such as ‘Keep Your Love Around Me’, ‘Master Hunter’ and ‘The Muse’ were given a heavier, almost funky, twist to them, which helped fill the large venue with sound. Whilst gentler songs, like ‘Love Be Brave’ and ‘Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)’, were kept as they were, generating some extremely tender and emotional moments.
The set was kept varied and unpredictable, containing a track from every album except her first. And though there was little stage banter, it felt appropriate to Laura’s continuously elusive persona.
If the audience wanted to know anything about her, they need only listen to her songs.
Image credited to Song Writing Magazine