Laura Marling @ The Forum
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Laura Marling @ The Forum

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Having just turned 22 a day prior, British songstress Laura Marling had certainly pulled an impressive crowd to sell-out the majestic Forum Theatre leading up to her appearance at Laneway. Not bad for the seemingly meek young starlet, who has managed to release three acclaimed records and achieved overwhelming recognition for her craft, all by the tender age of 21.

With all of Marling’s praises in mind as one of modern folk’s most prolific songwriters, expectations for her live show were difficult to surpass. Now well accustomed to the live setting, Marling had an undeniable presence on stage. While small in size in comparison to the towering setting of The Forum’s ethereal backdrop, Marling shone as the front-woman to a sprawled out five-piece band consisting of percussion, electric guitar, double bass and cello. Plus, throw in a trumpet and Marling was all set-up for the more ‘jazzy’ numbers, as she cautiously but confidently delved into tracks from her most recent full-length, A Creature I Don’t Know.

Leading with her latest single, I Was Just A Card, and following with surprise hit Ghosts just three songs in, Marling’s tracks were effortlessly brought to life thanks to her band, adding a richness and depth to each track as the notes echoed around the venue’s grand surrounds. However, left to her own devices as the band exited the stage for a purely acoustic session of tracks including the stunning Goodbye England and a wowing rendition of Ryan Adam’s, My Winding Wheel, the crowd was dead silent as Marling used only her voice and guitar to tell her renowned tales of wayward love with a kind of sensibility that made it feel like a privilege to watch. Marling’s musical capabilities were unquestionable and her lyricism nothing short of poetic as she treated fans to a brand new track that had even yet to be titled. And boy was the crowd appreciative; to them Marling could do no wrong. She is literally folk music’s darling, and as her painfully awkward but cute on-stage banter proved, she will be loved despite a lack of grunt or in-your-face attitude demanded by most.

The band is back on stage and a few loved tracks from previous albums, Alas I Cannot Swim, Rambling Man and I Speak Because I Can round out the intimate set to enthused reception from punters, while All My Rage gets fans singing along to close the night without an encore; Marling just thinks they’re silly. Whether you believe the angst or yearning behind Marling’s music or not, she is definitely a live force to be reckoned with. An undeniable master of her instrument; a musician who can hold a packed out Forum with just herself is pretty damn impressive to me.

BY TEGAN BUTLER

LOVED: Marling’s attempts to improve her ‘awkward’ stage presence with equally ‘awkward’ but hilarious banter.
HATED: The girl behind me who sang every line – I didn’t come here to listen to you sing!
DRANK: Water. Marling’s lyrics are sobering stuff

Photo credit: Anna Kanci