wears the trousers magazine


laura marling & friends: live at royal festival hall 11/08/09

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Laura Marling & Friends
Royal Festival Hall, London ••••
August 11, 2009  

Laura Marling is now such a respected and recognised name that not only can she sell out the Royal Festival Hall, she’s also allowed to bring some friends along for the evening. And not just any friends, but Wears The Trousers’ favourites Katy, Rosa and Olly from Peggy Sue, and the lovely Alessi Laurent-Marke (oh, and some boys too, most notably Andrew Bird, Johnny Flynn and Mumford & Sons). Walking onto a stage filled with mic stands, lamps and sofas, Laura’s tiny frame looked smaller than ever, but she’s clearly grown in confidence since her early gigs. Her boyish crop having been swapped for a longer, more sophisticated affair, she almost looks like Laura Marling’s big sister, despite being only 19. It’s not only her hair that’s grown; her voice has developed into a fuller, stronger version of itself, more than capable of holding its own in such an intimidating venue.

This bigger, stronger Marling was clearly ready to take risks, opening with a new song from her forthcoming album and continuing with mainly new material (including ‘Made By Maid’, aired on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour last week) and lesser known B-sides (‘Alpha Shallows’ and ‘Blackberry Stone’) rather than audience favourites. The Festival Hall crowd clearly had no complaints, lapping up the chance to preview the defiant and mature sound of hotly anticipated album number two. They were duly rewarded with a few that they could sing along to, by way of ‘Ghosts’, ‘My Manic & I’ and ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’.

So what about the “friends”? If there was one criticism of the evening it was the lack of collaboration between the artists on stage, each musician instead taking their turn throughout the set to step up to the mic and knock out a tune while Laura disappeared offstage. The formal and reverential setup – Marling gushed praise, albeit worthy in most cases, on every act – was a missed opportunity for something a little more casual and memorable.

Nevertheless, her friends didn’t let her down, with a new song from Johnny Flynn and Peggy Sue’s ‘The Sea The Sea’ (so good they played it twice – the band returned in the encore at Marling’s insistence to repeat the song without the technical difficulties that silenced their guitar the first time) even threatening to steal the show. The night was Marling’s though, proof of her transition from “one to watch” to Mercury Music Prize nominee to fully fledged songwriter of undeniable quality. The new folk scene might be 2008’s news, but the genuine friendship and support evident here tonight will surely see Laura Marling and her most brilliant friends playing together long into the future.

Richard Steele

Photo by crazybobbles. See more on his flickr.

 

Johnny Flynn & Laura Marling, ‘Travel Light’

Peggy Sue, ‘The Sea The Sea’ [live]

Alessi’s Ark, ‘Over The Hill’

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18 Comments so far
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Sorry to say I do not agree with your review. I was looking forward to the night but felt I could have seen the same (or better) at a pub open mic night. Sure her voice is nice and the songs unusual, but very repetitive with the solo guitar accompaniment to every first verse, before adding in the other instruments. Her ‘banter’ was dreadful, turgid and listless and she could not have sounded less excited if she’d tried.

The ‘friends’ contributions were less than “awesom” or “special” or “beautiful” or any of the other adjectives she used and they all looked awkward at the end standing around at the back of the stage for their curtain call. Pete Roe didn’t even make it over from the piano and got left in the cold. The Mumfords and Noahs contributions of one song each hardly merited the effort they must have made to be there.

I counted at least six (yes 6) onstage video cameras, plus a few more out in the auditorium. A 10-camera shoot for a solo singer? Don’t make me laugh. Looked like someone’s ego trip to me.

Finally, there were a load of moving head lights and other effects on stage. I never saw the lights move once – another waste of money.

I’m sure she’ll do better stuff in the future but I’m afraid last night was just one ego trip too far.

Comment by Banjax

@ Banjax… Ur clearly not into the scene or the music so why were you there? Laura is lovely girl, really genuine, a bit shy yes but certainly not egotistical. Do you think she waned the cameras in her face all night?? Of course not! That’s the record company man! All the musicians that played are so young, they are not seasoned performers but there is something really honest and beautiful in that. It’s a finesse which you clearly can’t appreciate, but I recommend you look harder for it next time because you’re missing out. It’s people like you saying things like that who make potentially great artists give up before they’ve even got going. Are you by any chance a failed muso?

Comment by VenusEnvy

Banjax – she was clearly overwhelmed by it all and so it’s no doubt her ‘banter’ suffered as a consequence, although i still thought she came across as a very funny, sweet girl.

also, ego trip?? laura marling seems like she is possible the least egotistical being on this planet! the cameras may not have been there due to her command or even if they were, who cares?? surely you’re there to watch the show, not sit compiling a list of all the technical equipment.

i thought it was a lovely night and her voice was stunning – wish she played ‘failure’ though!

i do have to disagree with your praise for Peggy Sue though – both my friend and I thought they were terrible – the song just made us feel stressed because it sounded out of tune and pretty bloody loud. not good times. they did have incredible voices though and everyone else seemed to enjoy it.

also, ‘Ghosts’ was amazing.

Comment by Fi

Just thought you guys should have a look at the Telegraph review because some of it looks very familiar:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/worldfolkandjazz/6017211/Laura-Marling-and-Friends-at-the-Royal-Festival-Hall—review.html

Comment by Prima LaRain

wow, thank you for pointing that out. will investigate.

Comment by Wears The Trousers magazine

haha i just found this website searching google and, as i’d already read the telegraph review, i assumed the plagiarism went the other direction. but then i noticed the post dates and the fact that this was up before that review. it’s an absolute paragraph by paragraph copy. i’m tempted to write them myself. appalling.

Comment by matt

Hmm, they took it down briefly but now it’s back up:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/live-music-reviews/6017211/Laura-Marling-and-Friends-at-the-Royal-Festival-Hall—review.html

still obviously cribbed from Richard’s review!

Comment by Wears The Trousers magazine

I noticed that – I thought they were going to re-review but no. It’s odd, I only noticed because the copying was so blatant. Hope you get some sort of reply from them and an apology.

Comment by Prima LaRain

@ Banjax… Ur clearly not into the scene or the music so why were you there? Laura is lovely girl, really genuine, a bit shy yes but certainly not egotistical. Do you think she waned the cameras in her face all night?? Of course not! That’s the record company man! All the musicians that played are so young, they are not seasoned performers but there is something really honest and beautiful in that. It’s a finesse which you clearly can’t appreciate, but I recommend you look harder for it next time because you’re missing out. It’s people like you saying things like that who make potentially great artists give up before they’ve even got going. Are you by any chance a failed muso?

Comment by VenusEnvy

[…] Noel and Adrian and Mumford and Sons after seeing them perform at Laura Marling’s excellent Royal Festival Hall show last night, sorting out proper running shoes for my half marathon training, finding dog tents on […]

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banjax does clearly not know what this is all about. she was amazing. they were all amazing

Comment by vintagedarling

Has anyone seen the indie rock colouring book which features Andrew Bird and Noah & The Whale?

Comment by Will

Linky: http://www.yellowbirdproject

Comment by Will

This was the most incredible night ever! I found it unbelievable that an artist with so much talent still had such modesty. Her shyness made me warm to her even more and it was obvious that all her friends who played with her adored her too. It definitely dismissed all those utterly ridiculous comparisons she gets with people like Kate Nash and Lilly Allen!

Comment by Bex

i wasnt there- totally gutted as i am from the north, but this looked amazing! what a line-up! your review is brilliant- the best on the internet. hopefully another one of these will happen soon and i can get myself down to london. x

http://flyingwithanna.wordpress.com/

Comment by flyingwithanna

[…] Laura Marling & Friends – Live at Royal Festival Hall [Richard Steele, posted on 12/8] 02 Sally Shapiro – My Guilty Pleasure [Seb Law 29/7] 03 Wye Oak […]

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[…] live performances from the Laura Marling & Friends show at the Royal Festival Hall last year [review], and the video for upcoming single ‘Devil’s Spoke’ (out March 15). What’s […]

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