Laura Marling – Manchester Cathedral – 24th October 2011

Posted on October 29, 2011

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written by Robert Pollard

Manchester Cathedral, a stunning, centuries old church that sits proudly in the centre of the city, opened its time-worn doors to the public once more as Laura Marling continued her tour of British cathedrals. This beautiful building is fast becoming the most popular music venue in the city, with its outstanding acoustics and stunning facade, it provides a truly wonderful experience for music fans. When one of the great artists of modern times is thrown into the mix things become even more memorable and Laura Marling certainly falls into that category. She is carving out a special career; one littered with great studio releases and poignant live performances, and with her success comes creative control. She can fill venues much larger than this but her desire to be part of something memorable means her fans get an intimate treat.

She stepped out into the hushed surroundings and faced an expectant set of fans. Marling’s career has thus far been so unblemished and brilliant that her live appearances are now hugely anticipated, as her fans assess the latest chapter in her ever evolving musical story. This level of expectancy is testament to her current standing, but it brings with it an added pressure; a pressure on which she seems to thrive. Her ability to craft excellent songs is consistent, and they transfer beautifully to the stage, with her ever improving guitar skills, her brilliant band of musicians and her pure vocal combining to great effect. You could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium such is the spell she cast, mesmerizing her audience with the nuances of her sound.

The Beast, one of the stand out tracks from her latest LP, sounded incredible tonight, with sudden surges in intensity that reverberated dramatically around the grandiose church hall. Sophia was another of the new songs to really resonate, with such adept musicianship and a gorgeous vocal delivery it is the latest in a long line of classic Marling tracks. However, it was the stripped back version of Night Terror, a song from her debut LP, that really stole the show. The studio version is full of instrumentation and musical dynamic, but the test of a truly great track is how it stands up when played with just a voice and an acoustic, and this version tonight was so spectacularly delicate and beautiful that it brought a whole new meaning to the track.

Laura Marling is fast becoming the greatest songwriter of her generation. In a music world so often criticised for manufacturing artists on multi million pound karaoke shows, she proudly represents true music ability. She writes songs so mature and intelligent that they belie her tender years and it is frightening to think what she could achieve if she continues in her current vain. Here, in a church dating back to 1215, she brought timeless songs and gave everyone exactly what they were expecting – a performance full of brilliance and beauty. Long may her ascent continue.

photography by Sam Ellis  

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Posted in: Music