I have been a fan of Laura Marling’s for quite a while now and I have seen her in the most extraordinary places. I remember the first time I saw her was at The Social and the second time being at St James’ in Piccadilly. Since then I became hooked on her music. Now Laura is back with her 4th LP Once I Was An Eagle and when the tour was announced there were to be not one but two dates in London. I decided to get tickets for both nights as I couldn’t be sure when I would next see Laura again. I did have a ticket to the Secret Cinema performance but the whole dressing up thing did put me off. So once I reached Shepherd’s Bush Empire I was the 2nd person there which was nice. When the priority queue barriers were up my friend and I joined that just to even everything out (you don’t really want someone who has just got there to get a better spot on the barrier). Supporting Laura you had Nick Mulvey who was in fact extremely talented and someone I definitely will keep tabs on. Mulvey had some really good catchy material and just getting my attention was quite something considering I hadn’t researched him prior to the gig.
Come 9pm a solo Laura Marling took to the stage to plenty of applause. “Hello my name’s Laura. I see a lot of faces” Marling then said before launching into a medley of songs from the current album Once I Was An Eagle. This was actually the first 4 tracks that appear on the album. The songs in question being Take The Night Off, I Was An Eagle, You Know and Breathe which were all meshed together. These were spectacularly delivered and the infusion between each song was hardly noticeable making it sound like just one tune. These were each beautifully delivered but I especially liked You Know and also Breathe was rather mellowing/ hypnotic. Master Hunter was played immediately after and it was the first released single from the new album. Still this was extremely upbeat and there was a strong folk twang. It was faultlessly delivered and it had been superbly written as well. Following on was a brand new song and this being One Day Soon. This was the first taster of what to expect from the next LP. That is if it makes the cut but from just hearing this wondrous fast paced song I am pretty sure it will appear. This was extremely promising and it makes me look forward to the feel of the new record. “So Shepherd’s Bush has got quite posh” Marling then said before launching into a spate of tracks from the first 3 albums. First there was I Speak Because I Can taken from the 2nd album of the same name. Now this was a brilliant song which was just delivered to perfection. After Laura recounted her cab journey earlier that day and the fact the driver didn’t know who she was. “You’re not one of these singer/ songwriters who writes soppy songs about being an old lady” the taxi driver said to Laura. It was then onto Rambling Man. This tune was strongly delivered and was delivered at a gentle pace. I love this song and just seeing it acoustic made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on edge. Following straight after was the whimsical Hera (aka What He Wrote) and this was beautifully delivered. Then following that you had the haunting Alpha Shallows which was faultlessly delivered and it was slightly infectious at the same time.
After some tuning it was then onto the début Laura Marling single Ghosts. I loved the folkness of this tune and it conjured up memories when I first witnessed Laura play in 2008. The song itself was was fast in tempo and extremely short. Backing this you then had Alas I Cannot Swim taken from the début album of the same name. The story behind this song is simple it is about a girl who has a obstacle in the way this being a river. This girl cannot swim so she cannot get to the house nor boy gold across the river. Love Be Brave which was played straight after was both gentle and soothing. Marling then mentioned how she now lives in the States and this led into a song Laura hadn’t played for ages and this being Goodbye England (Covered In Snow). It was actually quite poignant and emotional as you can see it being Laura’s goodbye message to the UK. This was a gentle pure folk song which Laura delivered superbly. When I first saw her singing it live Laura said it was her attempt of a Christmas song. “I will come back here, bring me back when I’m old/ I want to lay here forever in the cold/ I might be cold but I’m just skin and bones/ And I’ll never love England more than when covered in snow”. After it was straight onto Don’t Ask Me Why. This was both gentle/ beautiful and also entrancing at the same time. Sophia This started off slow but as it progressed it gained an faster tempo and got alot stronger. The penultimate song was actually a cover and this being For The Sake Of The Song which was originally by Townes Van Zandt and this take had the Laura Marling stamp all over it. This take on this track was literally amazing. After thanking everyone for coming out it was then onto the final tune of the evening and this being the fast paced and upbeat Where Can I Go?.
Take The Night Off
I Was An Eagle
One Day Soon
I Speak Because I Can
Alas I Cannot Swim
Love Be Brave
Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)
Don’t Ask Me Why
For The Sake Of The Song (Townes Van Zandt Cover)
Where Can I Go?
OVERALL: After missing out on the Secret Cinema (I had to sell my ticket) it was nice just to be able to witness the lovely Laura Marling again. The fact this tour was just Laura Marling made it even more special. Marling has grown in confidence since that gig at The Social in 2008. Each of the tunes that were performed this evening were incredible. Showcased was material from the 4th LP Once I Was An Eagle. Now that album is a grower. It was also extremely nice to hear a brand new song which makes me look forward to hearing more tracks from her in the future. The fact that Marling lives in LA makes me think that she wont be touring England anytime soon.
Nick Mulvey was a surprise as well. I came to the show not knowing any of his music and I left Shepherd’s Bush Empire hooked on the songs that he performed.