9th March | Colston Hall
Photos: Paul Lippiatt
If there was anyone you could hope to see the day after International Woman’s Day, Laura Marling would be a good choice. Since the release of Alas I Cannot Swim in 2008, Marling has made quite the name for herself as one of the most formidable female singer songwriters of our time and her latest album, Semper Femina is proving to be one of her strongest yet.
Looking effortlessly flawless in a floor sweeping, floaty dress she kicked off the night with a collection of songs from the new album, a bold and typical Laura Marling move. Joining her on stage was The Topolski sisters, Nick Pini on Bass/Double Bass Matt Ingram on drums, Blake Mills on guitar and arranger Rob Moose. The first song, ‘Soothing’ gave the rest of her show a lot to live up to with layers of harmony and dreamy instrumental guitar sections infusing her folky style with a glimmer of 90’s psychedelia; an unlikely match made in heaven.
The first half of the set continued to surprise me with spine-tingling vocals, reverberating double bass and consistently tight, and captivatingly dynamic drumming. I’m sure her lyrics spoke to every woman (and maybe even man) at some point in the night. Beautifully poetic, they are stories of women, the relationships they have and what people think of them.
Looking down from the balcony, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of phones amongst the crowd of people. I hadn’t been to a gig, ever, where I had seen so few people watching the stage through a tiny screen. Marling managed to encapsulate an entire room for an hour and a half, even when her band left her midway through to perform a few solo numbers, her sound continued to fill the room and emit so much emotion it felt too clinical to film it.
As the night neared towards the end, I could feel myself wishing for the last song. Her older material whilst much better known, didn’t quite have the same energy as her new tracks. Beautiful songs nonetheless, the new album shows a much more powerful, exciting side to her as a musician and a very talented one too. To my relief Marling took to the mic to address the audience (one of the few times she did) and told us “I’m sorry but we don’t do encore. If you want an encore count that as our last song, if not, this is our last song”.
That being said, ‘Rambling Man’ brought some much needed life back into the room and for the first time the lights were energetic, drenching the stage in purple and flashes of white. I almost wished I was standing so I could have one little dance. As it ended the once silent, mesmerised crowd broke into screams of applause whilst the girls next to me were literally crying with happiness. A perfectly justified ending to an evening of poignant relevance.
Relive the ever classic ‘Rambling Man’ below.