Laura Marling played an intoxicatingly whimsical performance at the O2 Institute, enwrapping the packed room with melodic harmonies and folk sensibility.
The O2 Institute was transformed into a magical forest on a Tuesday night. Dripping in flowers and backlit in shades of blue and green, the space transported the mixed age audience in a supernatural land of cinematic proportions. There was an obvious stirring of anticipation, as many knew that the backdrop was merely a mirror for the world that Laura was about to lead us all into. A folk singer songwriter with mystical lyrics, Laura Marling is an act that does not disappoint.
Opening with slow and sultry “Soothing” and “The Valley” the singer quickly hooked the audience with her spell. Like a sea siren calling from the depths, Laura captured every ear and every breath, the room was silent through the extended musical breaks and jazz undertone tunes. Each slow tempo note resounded deeply into the hearts and minds of the fans, and the night was just beginning. With a harmonious introduction that is traditional in folk music “Wild Fire” sprang forth. The slow and repetitive guitar created a dreamlike scene as lights flashed around Laura’s head. “Don’t Pass Me By” brought a fervent cry from the audience who clearly where excited for this song. As the lights warmed Laura picked her way through the drum-oriented song.
The sultry sounds faded and the band introduced bright and cheery song “Always this Way.” A playful song, it was a much needed departure from the slow and sultry beginning. The slight pick up of tempo continued with “Next Time” and “Nothing, Not Nearly” streaming through. Both songs undulated through the bridges, displaying the range of pace that Laura likes to incorporate into her music. Things where bright and cheery for too long, so Laura decided to once again bring in the sultry side to her work.
“What He Wrote” is one such tune, as the band exited the stage Laura’s acoustic set was cloaked in mystery and beauty. A clear fan favourite, this tune was a beautiful introduction to the acoustic tunes that showed off Laura’s impressive vocal range. The quick paced “Nouel” was up next. A sweet and enduring song that mirrored its folk roots it was a needed departure from its predecessor. In the last of the acoustic songs Laura sang “Love Be Brave.” The vocals danced around the room, once again holding that whimsical moment as the room was still.
The band entered back onto the stage as up-tempo harmonic tune “Daisy” was introduced. “Sophia,” a dance worthy tune that is a departure from the sullen songs of the set, was a much needed energy boost. As fans danced along the mood was light and electric. “Don’t Ask Me Why” and “Salinas” once again filled the room with folk feels, the slow and repetitive tones enhanced by the beautiful harmonies. In an interesting break from songs each band member then told us a fun and random fact. Hearing from each band member was certainly a treat, as they are usually hidden and silent behind their instruments. The night closed with the trifecta of “Once,” “Darkness Descends,” and “Rambling Man.”
Laura Marling and band put on a beautiful show that really created an atmosphere unlike any other show. While some of her sounds may seem a bit repetitive and slow, her ability to transport listeners to another world is unparalleled. It is no wonder that so many travelled out to be a part of such a stunning experience.
Reviewer: Kylie McCormick
Photographer: Ian Dunn