There were no latecomers for UK songstress Laura Marling at the Gov in Adelaide on Saturday night. This was good news for the support act, Melbourne’s Tiny Little Houses, who played a driving, solid indie set to a full house. The 4-piece sported excellent hipster facial hair, with 50 percent Sanchez, which left me pondering what the plural of Sanchez is, (Sanchezis?), and how the term has come to mean other things. Aesthetics aside, they would certainly be worth catching on their own headline tour so keep an eye out for them.
Laura Marling, backed by a 3-piece and 2 backing vocalists quickly brought the audience to attention with the sparse and haunting Soothing, the opener from her latest album Semper Femina. The slightly over-powering bass drum had the hearts pumping almost as much as the cheeky smile Marling produced at the end of every song. Some punters couldn’t contain their excitement as a call of ‘I love this song’ rang out as the group moved into Wildfire. It was clear, however, the night was going to be Laura’s show and she would set the mood to a slow sombre grill over medium coals. Marling’s glazed eyes and expressionless demeanour during each song was reminiscent of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Snow Queen, only releasing her quaint English charm with one or two banter sessions late in the show.
Perhaps there are reasons to be glum given recent events back home and it certainly didn’t detract from Marling’s blended vocal style and intricate guitar work on tracks like Don’t Pass Me By. Besides, the Topolski sisters slipped in a few extra smiles on the side of stage and created a swirling harmonic vocal backdrop. The bassist (Nick Pini) changed instruments more than Liz Taylor has changed husbands and grooved away in a world of his own. A mid-set cover of Townes van Zandt’s For the Sake of a Song encapsulated the Marling mood for the evening and had dreamy admirers waltzing with themselves.
The ten years or so in the business has Marling setting her own rules as she finished up the night with Rambling Man after explaining that if the audience was expecting an encore then this was it. There was no point in arguing as the last chord rang out and the house music came on while die-hard fans scrambled for the prized set list. I don’t think anyone begrudged the lack of predictable encore and surely left the night satisfied after witnessing a great performance.
by James Hickey