Laura Marling – Melkweg – 05.04.2010

Laura Marling - I speak because I can

Finally some sense! Close to the end of her show in the Oude Zaal at the Melkweg last night Laura Marling explained that she would do two more songs and that would be it. She said that being a regular gig-goer in London she resented the fact that every single gig involved having to call the band back on stage at the end to play their two best songs – the formulaic “encore”. So, she said, without presuming that we had enjoyed the gig, if we were planning on asking for an encore then “this is my last song, and if you weren’t, then there are two more to go”. I wish more bands would be honest like this – I’m not saying there isn’t space for crowds to demand one more song after an exceptional gig, but I’m tired of bands building the encore into their set list.

According to the lady herself it was Laura Marling’s first headline show in Amsterdam. She’s released two albums¬† the first of which, Alas I Cannot Swim, I like very much. We just downloaded the new one before the weekend, so the songs were less familiar. For me they didn’t stand up as well as the songs from the first album, but that’s probably just a familiarity thing.

Her band (lovely subtle arrangements and great vocal harmonies) disappeared for twenty minutes in the middle of the set leaving her to play four or five songs alone. She seems like quite a shy, introverted person that really has to make an effort to connect with the crowd. It helps that she’s a fine guitarist and singer and you can’t help but admire her talent for crafting songs that are catchy, clever and touching. Four stars from me.

Her support act, Nick Dawson Kelly, seemed like a nice chap. A good guitarist with stories to tell. It’s just a shame that he sings every song with a warbling voice that sounds like a cross between David Gray and Vic Reeves’ pub singer impersonation. Conor Oberst has proved that sounding a bit like a goat at times need not be a barrier to success, but at least he can tone it down to sing sweetly when necessary. I’d like to have heard Nick Dawson Kelly sing with his “normal” voice.