An epiphany bathed in golden light strums elegantly on her guitar; the audience take a sharp intake of breath, then… BONG, the epiphany pisses herself laughing. The clock strikes ten, an hour into Laura Marling’s set, and with nine bongs left this could be awkward if it wasn’t for the goodwill instantly filling the room (we’re in a church after all). “Mum told me it’s where Dickens is buried and is the oldest church in London,” charms Laura, her warmth grounding an awestruck audience. Enraptured from the start, a tiny crowd take their tiny seats beneath the altar as the newly brunette Marling (“I’m not used to it yet, do you like it?”) beguiles the room with songs old and new. Her stripped bare stories resonate even more in the intimate space, like watching a confession; albeit with the odd knowing wink. Marling’s breezy bashfulness is welcoming, her light touch giving an otherwise intense experience the humility it needed. A stray mid song cough, a clumsy tune of her guitar or a hair-dye horror story all make for comforting viewing, but it’s the songs themselves that stay with you long after the church gates disappear. Her new material, world weary and full of candour, is arguably beyond her years but when she opens her mouth to sing, it certainly feels like she’s lived it.
By Ian Roebuck
Originally published in issue 13 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. December 2009