Laura Marling released her first LP, ‘Alas, I Cannot Swim’ in 2008 and has since then released another three records. The latest of which is ‘Once I Was An Eagle’ which is perhaps her most confident and assured effort to date. It’s also her third LP to have received a Mercury Nomination. She hasn’t catapulted since her beginnings in ’08 but has maintained a strong and loyal fan-base who adore her sound for it’s frank but elegant lyricism and her undeniable handle of a melody which is absent from many of her contemporaries. This was a seated show at Salford’s Lowry and Laura Marling demonstrated just why she has lasted this long and proved that she isn’t just a radio-friendly Southerner who writes good choruses.
She opened with ‘Take the Night Off’ from her latest record. Instantly her voice strikes the crowd almost off guard. The preconception of a Laura Marling gig would be her songs and how ‘pleasant’ or ‘unoffensive’ they are but when she starts to sing there is a whole new dimension added to the Laura Marling experience. When she sings about heartache or even points out her own flaws through her lyrics it becomes impossible to assume this is the Laura Marling that gave us ‘Alas...’ half a decade ago. That album was born out of being young and in love. Laura Marling’s grown up and fallen out of it a little bit and it’s given way for her songwriting muscles to be full flexed. This show was just her on a tall, deep stage but we couldn’t imagine being more enthralled by an artist. Cuts like ‘Alpha Shadows’, ‘Sophia’ and closer ‘Where Can I Go?’ filled the room even when the only tools were Marling’s voice and her guitar. When she had a hiccup, she’d laugh to herself and carry on- we’d instantly be back in her web.
On the release of her last LP, Huffington Post wrote, "England has a proud history of producing generation defining female singer-songwriters... in Laura Marling, we have an artist not only capable of carrying on that fabled mantle, but dare I say, improving upon it as she does so." Laura Marling left the realm of ‘Rising Star’ a long time ago but this show proved that we shouldn’t stop celebrating what she does. It’s a rare case where the hype was justified and the artist has continued to flourish. She’s 23 years old and has hardly put a foot wrong in 4 LPs. This show at The Lowry was the definitive proof that Laura Marling is still someone to shout about.
Words: Duncan Harrison