On Friday night I had the joy of seeing the inexplicably talented Laura Marling play a breathtaking performance at the Manchester Albert Hall – a venue that although once a church, seemed as if it was actually built for folk music to fill it rather than hymns.
One of the most wonderful things about this gig is that I really wasn’t expecting to be able to go until very last minute. The tickets had gone on sale whilst I had been visiting friends in Durham and I got home to find they had all sold out much to my disdain. I was tempted to buy them for a crazy price at first, but I decided it was best not to, and although pained decided I would have to give this one a miss. However, I was looking at ticket re-sales last Sunday out of curiosity and found two tickets for £35 each which my lovely friend gladly agreed to buy with me and suddenly I had plans to see Laura Marling.
Laura Marling, other than complete perfection, is husky, alluring and full of soul. Her first album, ‘Alas, I Cannot Swim‘ was released when she was still in her teenage years and has a definite angelic innocence to it, that she slowly moved away from somewhat, until we reach her latest album ‘Short Movie‘ where her maturity is not only heard in her voice, but also in the ideas she conveys through her lyrics that have taken a much more simpler route, though are no less beautiful than those she wrote at 18. I can’t say that ‘Short Movie’ is my favourite Laura Marling album – although it is still fantastic and brilliantly unique – but after seeing many of those songs performed live I have even more respect for it than I already did.
Whenever you search for Laura Marling live on YouTube, you tend to be greeted by the ever so serious, ethereal performances that have you unable to take your eyes off her for the 4-8 minutes you are watching for, and believe me, I adore them. But what is nice about ‘Short Movie’ is that it didn’t feel as serious when played live. It has some really fun, bluesy, folk rock songs which suddenly break her stern exterior into a smile as she sees everyone laughing along in the audience as we bounce up and down to the likes of ‘False Hope‘ and ‘I Feel Your Love‘, and due to this she switched up some of her older songs to this more folk rock sound such as ‘The Muse‘ from her third album (A Creature I Don’t Know), which was originally an unapologetically country inspired acoustic song, now played as a blues song on an electric guitar.
But of course, as much as I like this new rockier sounds she seems to have adopted, my heart will always go to those softer songs; the songs where it is just her and her guitar, and she reverts back to the heartfelt, heart-wrenching performances that keep an excited audience silent for the duration of the song. For me the highlight was definitely her performance of one of my personal favourites from her second album ‘I Speak Because I Can‘, where she whispered the painful lyrics of ‘What He Wrote‘ to us and no, I did not cry, I held it together. Just.
My friend and I actually had to leave the concert early to get a train back home to our home-town because the train links are ridiculous (seriously Northern Rail, sort it out). We both tried to push it and wait for just one more song, but we had to drag ourselves away missing the final three songs – however, the rest of the night was so magical I don’t actually feel too sad about it. The very fact that someone who inspires me to an inexplicable degree; someone who makes me feel like music is still a big part of my life when I am busy living a life that doesn’t always seem to connect to this passion as much as I wish it did; someone who I think is just downright f’ing cool, was right in front of me playing songs that I have sung over and over again in my room and in front of my friends was enough for me. (I really like Laura Marling, if you hadn’t guessed already).
I could talk about this gig forever, but I just got back from a weekend in Leeds and I’m tired and aware that I am going to ramble on until I am completely incoherent. I apologise for a lack of pictures (I’m really bad at this blogging malarkey) but I don’t tend to have my phone out at gigs really – however, I was pretty much at the front and couldn’t resist one cheeky photo. It came out terribly, and it looks like I much further away from the stage than I was, but still. I took it and it is Laura Marling. It’ll do, right?
P.S. I have a big post about my time at Snowbombing Festival in Austria on the way, I have just been really busy lately and it was a lot to write about so JUST GIVE ME TIME STOP PRESSURING ME, gosh guys… (I don’t know if it comes across that I’m joking over WordPress, but to clarify, I’m joking)