Photo – Deirdre O'Callaghan
Here’s what you get at a Laura Marling concert: storytelling, through long songs, some almost 15 minutes in length with complex lyrics, and tunes that shift in tone and tempo. You get a mature-sounding and beautiful voice, eerily lovely at times, hitting high notes with ease and fluidity. You get musicality that is simple and uncluttered; insistent sparse percussion is provided by a double bass and drum set accompanying Marling on her acoustic guitar. The music lets her voice soar, as it should. You get twirled away on an emotional voyage through songs that are dense and idiosyncratic, wordy to the point where Marling forgot one of her own lyrics and had to stop and ask the audience what came next. They knew. Many people on Monday night seemed to know the words to her songs, and there are a lot of words.
Marling, here following up on Short Movie, her latest release, enjoys a devoted following. You get an unpretentious stage persona, a young woman who’s still only 25; Marling released her first album when she was only 18 and has been consistently impressing audiences ever since. She’s a folk singer but her music often has a bluesey feel to it, sometimes her tunes sound like protest songs from the 60s and 70s, and there’s a bit of Leonard Cohen in there, especially in those moments where the songs are sort of spoken. You get songs that twist and turn, exploration of a relationship that covers the sort of emotional ground where someone can declare that they’re not a victim of romance or circumstance but can end up saying ‘you broke me, you destroyed me.’ The punch and blood of heartbreak ring loud.
You don’t get a lot of talking to the audience: from time to time Marling related a few short anecdotes and her drummer boy told his own small story about a three year old noticing his bum crack while he was having a coffee outside a café in Perth, adding to the low-key, slightly daggy and genuine down-home vibe of the show. Marling does a few covers, bringing a clear emotionality to Dolly Parton’s Do I Ever Cross Your Mind? A male voice joins her in Please Let Me Go. She sang Goodbye England (Covered in Snow), I Was an Eagle, Breathe, Master Hunter and You Know.
2015 Melbourne Festival
With Special Guest D.D Dumbo
Venue: Hamer Hall | Arts Centre Melbourne
Date: 19 Oct 2015
Tickets: $79 – $25
Bookings: 1300 182 183