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LIVE(STREAM) REVIEW: LAURA MARLING AT UNION CHAPEL, LONDON (06/06/2020)

I can hand on heart say this is the first time I have been to a concert, albeit it virtually, sat on my bed with a glass of red wine. And I kind of love it. Of course, it would have been so much better to be surrounded by hundreds of people who know all the words, obviously. But needs must in a time of global unrest.

Laura Marling, who released her seventh studio album, Song For Our Daughter, earlier this year, has managed to fill our Saturday evening with some joy. Live-streaming from Union Chapel in London, Marling is one of the first known acts to put on a real pay-per-view virtual gig, making a real case for the future of live music, as we know it. If this was anything to go by, I don’t think I would mind.

Getting a ticket for the gig was simple. Available through the app Dice, I spent twelve English pounds on a ticket which showed up like any other ticket for a gig has before. A link was updated on the app fifteen minutes before the show was about to start – it went off without a hitch.

Singing alone with just her guitar, Laura Marling begins, unfaltering and poetic throughout. The camera initially circles around the singer-songwriter, embracing both her and the beautiful venue. Beginning with a suite consisting of ‘I Was An Eagle’, ‘Take The Night Off’, ‘Breathe’ and ‘You Know’ from Marling’s fourth studio album, Once I Was An Eagle, it is undoubtable that everyone is immediately captivated. Her voice is tender without being frail, its power unquestionable. Harking back to her debut LP, Marling serenades the silent church with ‘Tap At My Window’, acting as a reminder of her impeccable musicianship for well over a decade. 

Laura Marling
Photo Credit: Joel Ryan

Between songs we aren’t subject to an awkward banter that some acts may feel inclined to. Laura Marling instead indulges in the silence, a perfect stillness between tracks that sits comfortably on the empty pews of the church. We are not reminded of the world’s catastrophes, but rather are able to cling onto an hour of uninterrupted calm. The perfect tonic to the reality that is 2020. 

Songs from her latest LP are performed as though they have been a million times before; they sit between decade old classics without so much as a second thought. Laura Marling is truly timeless. ‘Strange Girl’ is jaunty and playful, an uplifting number while ‘The End Of The Affair’ is far more subdued yet intrinsically magical. Her voice stretches and lifts over dextrous guitar playing, a delicate ebb and flow through the empty church and thousands of homes simultaneously.

The music this evening has filled the uncertain void that we are all most likely feeling. As Marling performs ‘Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)’, it seems to hit a little differently – “I’m out now / It’s too hard / I’m on my own / It’s too hard.” But in this moment we are not alone, as Laura Marling has done a perfect job at creating a quiet unity this evening. As surreal as it may be to watch a paid for gig from my home, it is certainly something I will do again and again if this show is anything to go by. Live music will return, but for now we must support and enjoy it however we can. 

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