For those of you who have never had the pleasure of going to a gig at Glasgow’s Oran Mor there’s a couple of things you should know. Firstly it’s a converted church with beautiful décor and secondly probably due to that fact (Being a Church not necessarily the décor) the acoustics are amazing.
Tonight was the first stop on Laura Marling’s unique songbox tour. It was unique in as much as everyone who bought the special songbox version of her album got a ticket to attend the gig of their choice from five throughout the UK. I did wonder how full the venue would be seeing as this was the only way to gain entry but by the time the supports had played and Laura appeared on stage a large crowd had assembled.
Tables in front of the stage were adorned with candles and provided the perfect setting and ambience for a performance that can only be described as otherworldly. Walking onto the stage with a new short haircut she smiled and quietly announced “Hello Glasgow I’m Laura”. Set opener “Shine” was played alone on an acoustic guitar and was haunting to watch. I’ve written in the past that she’s got a vacant stare while she performs but that blankness is endearing and to witness it live is no different. I don’t know if it’s a look of determination, nerves or some kind of possession but when she sings and you look at her face it feels as if she’s singing only to you. Evidently there must have been some disgruntled fans complaining to her management about the way the tickets were distributed as after “Shine” she said “ Hope you’re not too annoyed about the one ticket thing, I know some people were”. No one here complained however and her band then joined her on stage for the rest of the ten-song set.
Recent single “Ghosts” sounded big and bold with the band backing her and outshone the recorded version while “Tap at my Window” saw her band pick up the less conventional instruments of fisher price style Kazoos and glockenspiels. “Cross your Fingers” is probably my least favourite track from “Alas I Cannot Swim”. Live however it came across very well, I think it was saved somewhat by the fact that the interlude “Crawled out of the Sea” was played directly afterwards and turned her most pop tinged two and a half-minute song into something more substantial. “Night Terror” provided the band with the perfect opportunity to show off just how good they are as the track is laden with strings that wrap themselves sublimely around Laura’s vocals.
Before playing final song “Your Doll (Dora)” she told the crowd that she wouldn’t be going off and coming back on for an encore because it seems fake. Instead she would just be playing another song after this one finishing by saying, “Even if you don’t want it it’s a free song”. I think it’s safe to assume that everyone at the Oran Mor definitely wanted it and the short folk sing along of “Alas I Cannot Swim” was a fitting way to end the nights proceedings.
I feel privileged to have been at the gig even though it was a relatively short set. Laura Marling has the potential to be whatever she wants to be, personally I can’t wait until she returns to perform a full show as she has so many great songs that didn’t feature tonight. Let’s just hope the promoters don’t get greedy and book her into a large venue where the beauty of her performance could get lost.
1) Shine 2) Ghosts 3) Old Stone 4) Tap At My Window 5) You’re No God 6) Cross your Fingers (Interlude Crawled out of the Sea) 7) My Manic and I 8) Night Terror 9) Your only Doll (Dora) 10) Alas I Cannot Swim