Alternative music reviews

June 14, 2008

Laura Marling – St Philips Church, Salford, June 10 2008

Filed under: laura marling,reviews — @ 6:01 pm Comments (5)

St Philips Church SalfordNo doubt about it – the venue’s the star tonight. St Philips with St Stevens is situated in what remains of old Salford, and is a gorgeous 1820’s building that is still in good condition. Contemporary Salford intrudes, however, in the form of warnings to keep Satnavs hidden (and the inevitable post-gig smashed windows). Still, good luck to the forward-thinking vicar, and the little bar serving local real ale was another nice touch.

I’ll try to avoid “waif-like” and “vulnerable” clichés, but she’s a slight, short-haired young lass, and her introductory ‘Rebecca’ was performed solo, unmiked and unamped, with the audience giving total respect. Her clear vibrato-tinged tones were enhanced by the church acoustics, and she continued with just her and an acoustic guitar, until the rest of the band gradually joined her on the altar. Sparse, sensitive backing gives a stripped-down feel, allowing the underlying melancholy (if not morbidity) of her lyrics to come through, with ‘Night Terror’ sending a shiver down my particular spine, before the evening ends with a jaunty ‘Alas I cannot swim’, done as an advance encore.

Any female folk(-ish) singer-songwriter gets the usual comparisons; Beth Orton, even Sandy Denny. My own points of reference were the Decemberist’s quieter moments, and maybe a nod to Throwing Muses’ Kristin Hersh. It’s pleasing (to me, at any rate) to see the decreasing influence of the alt.country/Americana scene (although she cites Will Oldham as a major influence) in favour of yet another native folk-based revival. She’s only 18 – watch this space….

See a video of the song Night Terror

Review by Big Dave