REVIEW: Melbourne Festival Presents LAURA MARLING

Warm and winning performance from young international artist

By Jessica Cornish

Draped in plain black linen and hugging an acoustic guitar, award-winning UK artist Laura Marling performed in the beautiful Hamer Hall as a part of the 2015 Melbourne Festival. Her stunning warm vocals filled the venue, complemented by her unobtrusive band mates upstage in the speckled light.

Laura Marling

The night began with a barrage of some of her more intense songs all in minor keys, and these were augmented by the stunning movement and colour splashed across the stage from the clever lighting design. All evening the lighting was vibrant and energetic, constantly changing and employing interesting lighting angles and looks or incorporating use of silhouettes and shadows.

Reminiscent of an intuitive storyteller rather than a mere folk performer, Marling’s songs have a genuine nature and often seem open-ended, never allowing us to predict when they will end, before we experience the sudden abruptness of silence. In between songs she was quietly spoken, and preferred to let her songs speak for themselves rather than explaining how they came to be or what inspired what particular composition.

She performed a catalogue of her more well-known pieces including my personal favourite “Ghost” (though she somehow managed to stumble on the words!) Laura charmingly explained afterwards she was distracted as she was trying desperately not to accidentally sing ‘shat’, which can sometimes amalgamates from the words ‘hat’ and ‘sat’ in the lyrics. She also professed Dolly Parton was a hero of hers (good taste, I have to say) and performed a wonderful cover of ‘Do I ever cross your mind?’ while impressing the audience with her new finger-picking technique, which specifically required the growth of her mutant right thumb nail.

Sometimes the lyrics were a little bit lost in the mix, but her vocal quality was continuously stunning. She has a rich, warm tone that sat nicely above the twangy acoustic guitars, and was a constant pleasure to watch and hear. If she ever comes back to Australia, I will be excited to see what this young British modern folk singer will then have in store.

Image by Deirdre O’Callaghan