On this, the release date of her sixth album, Laura Marling returns to Glasgow for a sold out show at the ABC.
After a rapturously received performance at the Celtic Connections opening ceremony, Marling is back as part of a UK-wide run promoting Semper Femina – a collection of songs which loosely revolve around female exploration and how the artist has viewed it as the years pass.
It’s some of her most ambitious work, and it is an interesting prospect as to how this translates in a live setting.
Marling is a fiercely strong role model for young women, and the audience is predominantly female by some distance.
Through the Londoner’s transformation from initially breaking through as the poster girl of twee-indie, to the groundbreaking folk artist that she is today, her loyal fans have continued to support her development and they continue to be rewarded with consistently superb releases.
It feels like she’s been around forever, but Marling is still only 27, and she continues to break new ground with every step.
The songstress is greeted with loud whoops as she and her band enter the stage and begin the set with Semper Femina opener ‘Soothing’.
A departure from what could be termed as ‘classic’ Laura Marling, with its Bill Withers-esque bassline and veers towards an alternative lounge-blues sound.
It is notoriously difficult to keep a Glasgow crowd quiet on a Friday night, made even more of a task when playing new material (which the first half of the set is almost solely devoted to).
However, Marling does this with ease, particularly when the songs are of the standard of the likes of ‘The Valley’, with its dreamy harmonies, and the Ray LaMontagne inspired ‘Nothing, Not Nearly’.
This isn’t to say that everyone is hush-silent throughout.
As Marling starts to play ‘Noeul’, she asks for her guitar to be turned up, to which she gets a properly Glaswegian good-humoured response of “YES YOU FUCKING CAN!” from one of the more well-refreshed members of the audience.
It is once the new material is out of the way, though, that Marling and her band step up a gear.
The short solo section mid-set shows off her voice – THAT voice.
‘What He Wrote’ is exquisite, while the rare inclusion of b-side ‘Daisy’ is a welcome addition to the set.
An even more apt inclusion slotting alongside the Semper Femina material lyrically with it’s refrain of “a woman alone is not a woman undone”.
The likes of ‘Sophia’ and ‘Darkness Descends’ are given new life by her exceptional band – who are all required to speak to the crowd, resulting in random facts about kangaroos and Charlie Chaplin.
Marling gives her now-standard warning that she doesn’t do encores, before launching into a final, beautiful ‘Rambling Man’.
Marling and her band have the whole ABC in the palm of their hands throughout the 90-minute set.
Despite barely removing her gaze from the ceiling, outwith her interactions with her devotees, she is still as captivating a live performer as ever.
Semper Femina only adds to an already excellent and diverse back catalogue, and Marling has surely now cemented herself as one of our ever-dwindling national treasures.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/294738302″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Words: Graham McCusker
Photos: Erin McKay