Swear I'm not Paul: Live Review: Laura Marling at Whelan's, 1 July 2008

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Friday, July 4, 2008

Live Review: Laura Marling at Whelan's, 1 July 2008

A day later than expected, I finally have gotten around to writing about the best Tuesday night I've had in ages.

We arrived at Whelan's at around a quarter to eight on Monday night, the doors to the venue weren't open and only a few dozen people were in the bar itself. I wondered what I was after dragging my lovely girlfriend to. Would it be another disaster of a show, like that time we saw Jens Lekman? So instead of standing around like chumps until the venue doors opened we went down to the shop. By the time we got back, around five past eight, a queue had formed outside the door. This was more like it!

We seated ourselves upstairs overlooking the stage (one of the benefits of Whelan's). The first support act (yes there were two!) introduced himself as Marcus from a band called Mumford & Sons, who sadly couldn't be there. They had probably over-exerted themselves at Glastonbury I'm thinking. But if the band are as good as or better than Marcus solo, they are definitely ones to look out for. He gave a wonderful performance, playing a variety of instruments and impressing every member of a packed Whelan's. There was only one negative point about his set, it was far too brief. 'Little Lying Man' was definitely a standout.

Next up was Dublin's own Robotnik. Sadly there was no sign of a blue hedgehog. Just like the way in Sonic that Dr Robotnik starts off small and gets bigger and badder until the final showdown, Robotnik started off slow with some folky numbers before introducing the rest of his band: Toshiba, his laptop. What came next was definitely not something a lot of the crowd expected. His techno-folk and bizarre lyrics ('I Found Jesus In The Year 2027' is a case in point), as well as his showmanship (getting up on tables and giving out sweets), were nothing if not entertaining. I'd recommend checking him out at Crawdaddy in two or three weeks. He's a nutjob.

While these two acts were playing, there was a group of English people, of which only half seemed interested. A tall blonde girl was chatting and giggling as both artists played. I pointed out that it was Laura Marling standing near me. The accent matched. She was talking to a guy at the bar when cheers came up from downstairs. I was wrong, it wasn't her. Mortified. I'm glad I didn't attempt to talk to her.

The waifish singer downstairs was just as good as her album Alas I Cannot Swim indicates. She played some of her better known songs at the beginning of the set, 'Ghosts', 'My Manic and I', and 'You're No God' were standout tunes, all coming one after the other. Marling live is a much more intimate experience than on the record, as it is a sparse cut-back approach. She was joined by Marcus Mumford on many of the tracks, and he seems to be able to play everything. His xylophone on 'Ghosts' was especially pretty.

Marling then played some new songs, a great sign of what's to come from this young singer, none of which seemed below the standard of what's gone before. One of these songs she even admitted to only having written the night before. That's confidence for you! One of these new tunes, 'Made A Maid', is one to look out for (I've included a live version of it down below).

'Cross Your Fingers' into 'Crawled Out of the Sea' was damn near perfect, and was followed by a rousing version of 'Alas I Cannot Swim'. Marcus and Laura left the stage to rapturous applause, but were forced to return for a one-song encore 'I'm A Fly'. It's a pity the show couldn't have gone on longer, but there's damn curfews in place. Even still, it was a truly marvellous show, and when she returns to town, I'll definitely go again.

'Made a Maid' live in England someplace:

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