Laura Marling and The Leisure Society at Sheffield Cathedral

After a special solo matinee earlier in the day , the stage was set for tonight’s performance. This is my second gig at the cathedral and it still is a rather surreal and magical experience. This evening it hosts two rather special acts.

Opening with ‘We Were Wasted’, The Leisure Society set the tone beautifully for the rest of an evening.  Playing with a stripped-down incarnation of the band on this tour, their music perfectly fits in to the cavernous setting, as shadows dance across the walls amid the still of the night. They play a short, but wonderfully judged set, including ‘The Last of the Melting Snow’, ‘Our Hearts Burn Like Damp Matches’ and a gorgeous cover of Erasure’s ‘A Little Respect’.

Nick’s wonderful voice is subtly accompanied by a range of instruments including piano, flute and violin, their music taking on a life of its own.  If ever a band were made for playing in this kind of venue, it surely is The Leisure Society.

The walls echo with the rapturous applause that greets Laura Marling as she takes to the stage.  She has come a long way since her Mercury nominated debut album, Alas, I Cannot Swim, beguiled us all back in 2008.  With the release of two albums in as many years, we have seen her mature into one of the UK’s best singer-songwriters.

She is joined by her band as she takes to the stage after her lunchtime solo endeavours.  Beginning with ‘I am Just a Card’ from her new album A Creature I Don’t Know, she follows it up with ‘Made by Maid’,’ The Beast’ and a sublime rendition of ‘Ghost’.  However, Laura is truly in her element when she only has her guitar for company.

An unearthly silence falls as her shear presence seems to light the stage like a single beacon in the descending gloom of the night. She enchants and delights with ‘Goodbye England’ and a cover of Jackson C Frank’s ‘Blues Run the Game’’ before entertaining the rapt crowd with some world class whistling, a skill mastered whilst a member of Noah & The Whale.

She is clearly enjoying herself, and exudes a confidence I have never seen before, playing ‘Flicker and Fail’, a song originally written by her father over 30 years ago. A woman who doesn’t entertain encores, although it was undeniably, she ends with ‘Rambling Man’ and ‘All My Rage’, aptly ending the set as she does her latest album.

She seems to have finally found a true belief in her own abilities. A truly enchanting evening in a perfect setting.

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