Laura Marling brought her band to the Brighton Dome last Thursday night.
Support came from one-time Marling producer Ethan Johns who was joined by some of Marling’s band and an exquisite violinist for a set of engaging Americana. It was a charming warm-up but the concert had sold out and the audience were waiting for only one person.
Laura Marling and band appeared on stage seeming slightly nervous, but that might have been because the songs from her new album ‘Semper Femina’ haven’t been fully road-tested. They played most of the new album and then the band left the stage leaving her to play a couple of solo numbers which felt a little flat. However, after that she announced that the new songs were done with (not quite true) and from thereon the energy picked up and for the next hour or so Marling and band powered their way through a variety of songs from her back catalogue.
Marling is no mover or shaker on stage, and in fact she stood fixed in front of the centre mic for the whole set. The band were lively, the Topolski singers on backing vocals good, but most of the action came from the effervescent lighting. But none of that mattered much however when the songs are as good as these and Marling’s voice strong and moving, bringing its own dynamic.
Stage banter doesn’t come naturally to her. At one point she awkwardly asked each band member to tell the audience a fact, which she had apparently tasked them to find that afternoon. Fortunately, Emma Topolski’s one about the three As in Australia all sounding different is genuinely memorable. Marling told the audience that she didn’t do encores, but was self-aware enough to know that had she walked off stage without any interaction it would have felt a little odd. As it was, the final song was one of her best, the beautiful upbeat ‘Rambling Man’ and it ensured we all left on a high.
A Laura Marling gig can be a challenging affair. She still seems a little distant, a little waif-like and lost. But she’s grown in confidence and her performance provides an added dimension to what is undeniably a stunning collection of songs. There was little doubt the Brighton audience went home satisfied.
Brighton Dome, Thursday 16th March 2017
Photos by Jon Southcoasting