Gig review: Laura Marling, Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh

APPARENTLY in a reflective mood, Laura Marling at different points recalled a trip to Edinburgh with Mumford and Sons as a teenager when she played Bannermans pub and wound up sleeping in a double bass case, and touring the UK packed in a Ford KA with 'four sweaty lads' from Noah and the Whale. 'Don't forget I came from the streets,' she joked.

Laura Marling. Picture: Getty
Laura Marling. Picture: Getty

Laura Marling | Rating: ***** | Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh

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A considerable and still very much ongoing upswing in her fortunes since the late 2000s has seen the now 26-year-old Hampshire alt-folk artist become a festival headliner and consistently critically acclaimed, award-nominated top ten recording artist, with five albums to her name including 2015’s Short Movie. This first of two sold-out low-key solo shows in Edinburgh saw her warm-up for an arena tour opening for her hero Neil Young.

With no backing band, no setlist and no pre-prepared banter, this was Marling at her most au naturale, and it was an unqualified pleasure. Delving into her oeuvre with such impulsiveness that not even her hard-working guitar tech could seem to guess what might be coming next, she produced everything from the lustrous I Speak Because I Can, Devil’s Spoke and Howl to a highly auspicious brand new song called Wildfire and consummate covers of Bert Jansch’s Courting Blues and Townes Van Zandt’s Waiting Around To Die.

Barely a finger was slipped in her intricate guitar weaves nor a note sung off pitch. Neither a wandering eight-minute rendition of I Was An Eagle, nor a polite refusal to do an encore after closer Rambling Man (she never does encores), could dull this show’s very natural shine.