Words – Dan Etiel
Photos – Zach Hogg
D.D Dumbo opened the double-bill to a sizeable crowd of early punters. His remarkable looping skills were, of course, on show and he deftly created layer upon layer of sound across multiple instruments. Dumbo played to the crowd by launching into his hit Topical Oceans early in the set and offered up several unreleased tracks as a nice surprise for the keen attendees.
Laura Marling took to the stage bathed in blue light, bringing with her an ethereal atmosphere and instantly transfixing the audience as she played the opening notes of Take The Night Off. Unfortunately, the first lyrics were lost thanks to an AV gaff, but the rest of the song (and the performance for that matter) came through crisp and clear.
The performance played out as a journey through Marling’s eclectic back catalogue, with songs coming thick and casual – almost in medley. The audience appeared hypnotised by the performer’s signature cadence, delicate acoustics and the pulse of the accompanying instrumentalists (on double bass and drums).
As an aside, it was particularly noticeable that there were hardly any mobile phones pulled out for recording. It was refreshing to see an audience so engaged, just enjoying the moment, rather than pandering to social media.
Amid the varying blocks of poignant refrains and dare I say it, folksy songs, Marling had small, light-hearted exchanges which brought out some life in an audience who didn’t know whether to sway or stand still for the better part of the night. The diverse range of songs performed were nice to keep the audience guessing, but made it hard to get into a groove.
That being said, the highlight of the evening was the decidedly non-groovy, melancholy vignette of Night After Night, What He Wrote and Alpha Shallows. Each song bounced Marling’s velvety voice and evocative lyrics around the venue.
The counterpoint of Ghosts, as Marling herself noted, brought everyone ‘out of the dark’. It was clearly a fan-favourite as there was audible singing and whooping. A few strumming errors added to the atmosphere as the performer laughed them off along with the audience.
Other notable moments were the covers of Jackson C. Frank’s Blues Run The Game and Dolly Parton’s Do I Ever Cross Your Mind.