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Review: Laura Marling in Melbourne
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Just a little recap and review - okay, a rather long one, actually - of the Laura Marling gig I saw on Wednesday night at The Corner Hotel in Melbourne. Includes set list and notes.

What an awesome gig. It was everything I was expecting, and more. Definitely worth attending, especially since Laura and Marcus may not be playing together in future as just the two of them:

"We haven't quite worked it out yet, but this might actually be the last time me and Marcus play together as just the two of us. I know; so, it'll be very sad." - Laura

I don't know whether that means Marcus will be leaving, or whether someone new will be added to the mix. And being a chicken, I didn't go and ask when they were hanging around the t-shirt stall after the show.

A press release or blog post quoted around the traps said "Laura Marling will perform two intimate side shows when she visits Australia in August to play the Splendour In The Grass Festival". Now, maybe the Northcote Social Club is an intimate venue, but The Corner Hotel is large and filled to capacity. Still, it wasn't un-intimate... For one thing, Marcus Mumford played early on before the majority arrived and it was relaxed and lovely. Laura and a friend came and watched from the floor. A few people noticed her, but no one said anything or caused a fuss.

Sorry Jane, but Firekites' music is not really my thing. Nice guitar work, but I didn't catch the vocals, and enjoyed the music more when listening to it on the website.

By the end of the Firekites set, the place was packed and most people were set in their place, so I ended up in the sidelines, but still got a clear view of Laura and Marcus, so all was okay. Biggest gripe of the evening was the red lighting: everyone on stage was red, as if they were standing in a photographic darkroom. With a custom white balance, I managed to get a few lousy shots without the red giving the camera a nervous breakdown, but the colour's still way off, and the surrounds turn out green. A little less red and a little more white would have been nice.

My other gripe: not realising until the last 15 mins that I can record reasonable sound on my compact camera. Since the volume was perfect, there was no distortion like at a hip-hop gig.

So, as I was saying, it was an awesome gig. Laura Marling comes across as warm and natural, I was pleasantly surprised to see her engage with the audience really well, albeit a little awkwardly and in an extremely tired state.

In an interview, I read: "It does seem irrational to me that I can't seem to just be comfortable being on stage, even though I enjoy it immensely," Marling says. "I'd rather be safe than sorry and just not speak and let Marcus do it." So, I wasn't expect so much as a hello, but it seems she is finding her stage confidence really well.

A gig like this is such a contrast to a rock or hip-hop gig. The audience were dead silent during each song, paying attention and holding their applause for the end. And the sound mix was good, so it really was an intimate performance, despite the crowd.

After a great night, I'm still left with the album, and an interest in seeing how her career develops as she releases new work and hopefully returns to Australia.

Set list:
  1. Shine - My least favourite song from the album due to a repetitive refrain, but soulful and beautiful performed live.

  2. Ghosts

  3. Blackberry Stone

  4. You're No God

  5. Your Only Doll (Dora)

  6. Cover: Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done"

  7. Tap At My Window

  8. Rebecca

    • Story about "Stevo", the accordion who has to retire, because they use his case as a bass drum, and they just can't tape it up any more, so poor Stevo can't travel again.

  9. My Manic And I

    • Story by Marcus, while Laura tuned her guitar. A true story, but exaggerated according to Laura, who says she didn't punch him in the nose, and that Marcus gives the wrong impression by saying she told the lead singer of Sigur Ros to fuck off...

  10. Rambling Man (New song, supposedly underrehearsed.)

  11. Old Stone

    • "We have a slight problem with the idea of encores. Because if we go off stage, we're going to be about that far away from you guys. So, it's a little bit weird that we stand there waiting to see if you do like us or you don't like us. And we like you, so... we're just going to play on." [enthusiastic applause] "So, we've got one song and an then an encore. We hope you enjoy it."

  12. Cross Your Fingers

  13. Crawled Out Of The Sea

  14. Alas I Cannot Swim - with the rousing encore chorus like on the iTunes Live - London Sessions EP.

    • And with that, they departed. No bows or other fanfare.

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