Laura Marling @ The Tivoli 21st October
English nu-folk singer Laura Marling was just seventeen years old when she wrote her debut album Alas I Cannot Swim. At the time, she sung the backing vocals for London indie rock band Noah and the Wale and collaborated Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Son’s fame. Seven years on, the twenty five year old has gone on to record five solo albums, win countless awards, and imbed her deep and poetic vocals into the minds of thousands of admirers throughout the world. Her latest album, Short Movie was released back in March and tonight she is at The Tivoli in Brisbane to give us a glimpse of what it’s made of.
One man band DD Dumbo (aka Oliver Hugh Perry), is Marling’s only support act. Sporting a short haircut and a green ‘healthy lifestyle’ t-shirt, the young Melbourne musician takes to the stage and immediately loops his drums while nursing a bass drenched, twelve string guitar. The resulting sound is minimal, though his astonishingly lush harmonies give off a bluesy, transcendental vibe. Throughout the set he shows his talents by playing the flute and trumpet, when paired with his vocals sits perfectly. His ability to keep on top of the mass of complex sounds impresses me the most, which is best exemplified in his most popular song Tropical Oceans.
After a short wait, Laura Marling walks onto the stage with a glass red wine. Joined by her bassist and drummer, they begin with Take the Night Off, folding into You Know, into I Was An Eagle, and into Breathe; a true treat for admirers of her 2014 release Once I Was An Eagle. At first she doesn’t speak, moving from song to song in one complete motion. Afterwards, she looks out into the packed audience and greets us with a simple ‘hello’. Later on when a girl faints in the audience, she tells us a story of being younger and having to look after her passed out friend at a metal concert, ‘luckily, this is a nicer atmosphere,’ she laughs.
Keeping the set predominately recent with material from Once I Was An Eagle, A Creature I Don’t Know and Short Movie, she demonstrates her matured, deeper toned vocals which reign an eery silence around the room. Her rendition of her break out single Ghosts is a little shaky, as she trips on her lyrics and chord progressions. Afterwards she explains that she was sixteen when she wrote the song, and she sometimes has to search for her old videos on YouTube to relearn it.
Her voice transitions from being delicate and angelic in songs such as Goodbye England (Covered In Snow), to a spoken, emotionally drenched Night After Night. She covers Dolly Parton’s Do I Ever Cross Your Mind, and gives us a ghostly rendition of Jackson C. Frank’s Blues Run The Game. I would have loved to hear some more harmonies from her drummer, however Marling’s vocals on their own were more than enough.
At the end she explains that she doesn’t do encores, an English tradition that I find refreshingly honest. She leaves us with Rambling Man and a beautifully drawn out How Can I. For such a young woman, Marling has an incredibly old soul. I leave wrapped in a blanket of goosebumps and inspiration.