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Laura Marling At The McKittrick Hotel, Sunday, December 11th, 2011

People tend to mistake length for breadth. As they  left Laura Marling's excellent set at McKittrick Hotel Sunday evening, they were complaining about the short, half an hour, performance and not even an encore. Who cares? Laura left us screaming for more at the end, and then ignored the pathetic ritual of going off stage and then coming back on again, that fools and pleases no one, she just left us broken hearted. Perfect. Perfect.

I've had my doubts about the English folk singer all along. She seemed too delicate, too pre-fab, too girlfriend of the stars. I disbelieved. It took me years, six years to be precise, to get it. But now I do. All three albums have clicked and on stage? Laura has that something. In black jeans and turtleneck sweater, her blonde straight hair, her English rose complexion, her neat, but not erudite (I know, it's a metaphor) finger picking, her ease and intelligence and passion, what she has is star power.

The set opens with "Sophia" off her latest album A Creature I Do Not Know. I loved it on the album, but live it is much better. The song is taken a touch faster, her lovely falsetto in the chorus touches the heavens yet is earthly and sexy, and the middle is astounding "I'm a good woman and I never did say whatever it was that you did that day, I'm not a woman that is going to place that claim but you said that it was coming on judgment day.". I am not much for song interpretations any more but it appears to be the story of betrayal. It burns in anger not hurt and laura moves forward as the song moves forward.

Or if you prefer, Laura had us at hello.

The McKittrick doesn't feel full at all, and since marling is an obvious instantaneous sell out, I am assuming the venue screwed up occupancy requirements. You could see great everywhere.

Laura follows "Sophiat with "The Muse" and "I Was Just A card", neither favorites, both off the new album, both perfect.

As telling a moment as any in the evening  occurs soon after  conversation, as Marling explains that she will be playing songs from each of her three album separately as opposed to mixing them up because she "broke" her other guitar and didn't want to change key after each song That isn't the telling moment and she doesn't do it any way, the giveaway is when she claims she is happy it was the other guitar that broke. "This one is divashish, he has a mind of his own, but he sounds better…" He? I had an Acoustic Fender Sunburst a coupla years ago and I could swear it was female. What I am suggesting, and what is self evident tonight, is that Marlings great theme is sex not love.

If the set was lesser the constant guitar tuning would matter, but honestly, I am not exaggerating, she was so amazing I was happy to wait.. Every single song absolute perfection. She didn't play "Ghost" and she didn't play "England (Covered In Snow)" and, honestly, I couldn't care less. The woman has the touch. And it isn't her beauty, it isn't how she seems to summon Sandy Denny and Sinead O'Connor yet remain true to herself,… maybe it is ineluctable. We know Marling has something about her, the sort of thing that inspired Charlie Fink to heights of songwriting, but we don't know what it is. I don't know. But Marling has an intensity without pretensions, or wisecracks. She eases you into her set and keeps you there. Her voice has range and character and she can live in the upper range for a verse when she feels like it

The set ends with "All The Rage" and finally," The Rambling Man" off her first album.

And its over and all I am thinking is, I gotta see this woman again. How often does that happen to you?

Grade: A

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