Meltdown: Laura Marling at the Royal Festival Hall
It takes a special talent to captivate a packed house with just voice and guitar alone. That talent took the form of the hypnotic Laura Marling last night at the Royal Festival Hall in the penultimate performance of Guy Garvey’s Meltdown.
The set and tech were effective in their minimalism. A series of spotlights accentuated shifts in tempo and tone: an icy, lonesome blue during melancholy ballads of lost love changed to a fiery crimson complementing the pacier, more passionate moments of the set.
Marling began the evening surrounded by drums, a cello, a fellow guitarist and two backing singers, before being joined by a trio of violinists as the night wore on. She combined classics such as the rousing Rambling Man with work from her latest album, Short Film. The upbeat opening was followed by the melancholic, quietly pleading How Can I and the wistful, cheerfully empowering Daisy. The undercurrents of pain and loss were audible, not solely in her lyrics, but in her voice as well, cutting right to the heart, while revealing a part of hers.
It was in the moments of onstage solitude that the show was at its poignant, disarmingly honest best. Through flawless, flexible vocals, occasionally tinged with flavours of the American South, and a unique, singularly engaging stage presence, Marling managed the great feat of making every spectator feel personally involved and individually serenaded. At times, it felt as if each member of the audience was being given an insight into her romantically tumultuous past, as she took them through the pain of heartbreak, placing them alongside her on the road to emotional recovery. The intimacy of these lone ballads was occasionally lost in the larger ensemble efforts: sacrificing this unique connection for more conventional crowd-pleasers played at odds with the stationary set up of the performance, causing a sense of muted monotony to sink in during a number of songs.
However, these moments of tedium were infrequent, and ultimately forgotten in a set that was varied and poignant and fronted by one of the most captivating singer-songwriters in music today.
Photos: Vic Frankowski
Guy Garvey’s Meltdown is at Southbank Centre from 10th until 19th June 2016, for further information visit here.
Watch the video for Short Movie here: