What a year!

How did she phrase it? that it had been a weird year? or strange? As we sat on the edge of the stage watching the crowds disperse Hg and I realised that yes, it was indeed only a year since we’d first seen Laura Marling play, at the memorable event we now refer to as the gig in the gutter where she took to the street outside the Soho venue having been barred from playing after the management discovered she was not yet 18 years old.

tuning

Well, she’s 18 now. Still gamin, but oh what a difference a year has made. The voice has grown, matured, mellowed, gained immeasurably in confidence, and so has she.

While still obviously painfully shy (there were several self-deprecating references to her inability to “banter”) the full-on touring schedule, both national and international, has strengthened her stage presence. She was backed on about half the songs by the new “team Laura Marling” – keyboards (Pete Roe), violin/ukelele (Phil Renna), bass/double bass (Graeme Ross), percussion/accordion (David Sanderson) and, on a couple, a backing singer called Emma – but whether alone or surrounded she was, gracefully, in control.

laughing

Both Hg and I had, it transpired, been worried that the gig might suffer from end-of-tour ennui, material polished to beyond perfection and/or delivered with the lack of zest which comes from repetition and over-familiarity. But no, it was quite the reverse. Not only were the album tracks fresh and zingy both in delivery and arrangement, there was a wealth of new material, “as new as songs can be” she explained while apologising in advance for any roughness. One, Hope in the Air saw her putting aside the familiar guitar and accompanying herself on the banjo.

banjo

Lyrically the new songs seem to be returning to the darker places from whence much of her early material came, but from her position of greater depth and experience. I continue to be impressed (to the point of slack-jawed awe, quite frankly) by Laura Marling’s prodigious talent which shows every sign of continuing to develop. I can’t wait for the second album.

Some links:

* Evening Standard review of the (previous night’s) Scala gig on 11 November;
* The Guardian review of that same gig;
* Interview on ClashMusic.com;
* the rest of the pictures (no, I’m not going to moan about my camera still being broken yadda yadda).

6 Replies to “What a year!”

  1. Thank you. It was an absolutely magical evening. Even the facts that it was heaving, that we weren’t near the front nor in the middle, I didn’t have my fancy camera, we were standing under an air conditioner blasting arctic air at our heads and I was foolishly wearing a pair of shoes which rendered my feet into throbbing lumps of pure pain failed to detract from the occasion.

  2. Yeah, spot on. I remember the female singer’s name as Emily rather than Emma, but I could be wrong.

    The air conditioning was lunacy. Worst thing was the way it only kicked in *after* we’d taken our positions and the place had filled up. If I’d checked my coat in to the cloakroom, I’d have been seriously pissed off. But as you say, it was a minor annoyance in an otherwise captivating night.

    Did you get any decent pics of Jay Jay Pistolet?

  3. Emily, Emma… who knows, I couldn’t find out for sure.

    I only appear to have taken one picture of mr Jay Jay “i am your spaniel; the more you beat me, i will fawn on you” Pistolet – I’ve put it here.

  4. She’s a frighteningly mature writer and singer, punching way above her weight amongst the current mass of talented, original female singer/songwriters. Where the hell have they all come from all of a sudden?

  5. Very good question. Have they arisen from the ashes of our Blair despair? Or is it a London bus phenomenon… you wait for years and then a herd come along at the same time.

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