Poised before ten foot tall, organ-laden walls, she was undaunted.
British songstress Laura Marling is making a habit of performing in iconic venues of grandeur in Australia. Marling was here last year as part of Laneway Festival, and her tour down under saw her take to the stage of the Sydney Opera House. Seemingly unbeatable, this tour's heavenly location of St. Stephen's Uniting Church was just as special if not better suited to Marling's intimate folk tunes.
This time last year there was a real hype surrounding her third album, A Creature I Don't Know. It felt like she was on the very edge of transitioning from good to great; finding her artistic niche. Although she was slightly belittled by the beastly Opera House venue, it sounded as if she was nearing total artistic independence.
What a difference a year makes. Poised before ten foot tall, organ-laden walls, she was undaunted. Joined only by her cello player, Ruth de Turberville, she began with the mighty task of playing through the opening four-song sequence of her latest record, Once I Was An Eagle. Listening to a fourteen-minute folk-epic can be a slightly arduous task for any casual fan but with the first note she had the crowd right where she wanted them. They were firmly on the ride for the ebbs and flows that came with moving from the floating Take The Night Off to the grounded confidence of You Know. Moving straight on to the domineering Master Hunter, she created stirring crescendos with her sole acoustic guitar - a power often missing from acoustic shows.
While it was great to hear Marling add her newfound flair to some old favourites (Rambling Man, I Speak Because I Can), notably utilising her Dylan-esque twang, it became startlingly clear that her latest material was her best. A younger version of herself never would've sung in first person a line like 'With my eyes on the prize of your bed' (Once) nor would she have told the crowd to “just chill, everything will be alright.” For the duration of the set she was comfortable, calm and commanding. As she left on the line 'Should I choose to love anyone/Anytime soon/Then I've saved these words for you,' it felt like the audience had attended the church of Laura Marling and were all leaving believers.
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