To a huge cheer and warm Yorkshire welcome, Laura Marling arrived on stage at a packed Leeds Academy that felt like it was doing its best impression of a sardine tin. Marling instantly set the tone for the evening; a mix of a relaxed atmosphere with an occasional injection of tension. She quickly ran through a few tracks (‘I Was Just A Card’, ‘The Muse’ and ‘Salinas’) from her latest album “A Creature I Don’t Know” and I fully expected this to dominate the set. However, Marling surprised and was more than confident enough to dig through her back catalogue with fans singing along to many of the older songs, such as ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Alas, I Cannot Swim’. The most noticeable thing aside from the music was Marling’s stage presence, she held the audience in the palm of her hand without any of the arrogance that goes with that type of performer. Her witty repartee between songs and band member’s facts during the interval provided plenty of entertainment. The end of every song was met with cheering and whooping for which she was almost embarrassed by and thanked the audience for repeatedly. It was great to hear Marling stretch her voice and add bite to her delivery, not something that is always present on record, which added a great emotional resonance to the songs. During the acoustic mid section of the show she premiered a new song amidst amusing banter with a heckler and demonstrated how very naked and exposed her music can be, which isn’t present on “A Creature I Don’t Know”. My only mild criticism is that Marling and her band often replicated the studio sound a little too closely and a rough sound or some experimentation with dynamics/arrangements is something I think helps a live performance stand out but as I said it’s a minor criticism. Overall a superb gig from an artist that continues to grow musically and demonstrates a new found confidence that matches her current stature while retaining humility.

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