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Top Five Fridays: Laura Marling Live via Prey To None

October 2, 2015

Hey Folks,

Let’s be honest, I’m always excited about Top Five Fridays (#T5F) but this one is special.  We’re mixing it up this week, and rather than go over five great albums, today we are exploring five great live performances from one of my favorite artists ever, the incomparable folk artist singer/songwriter Laura Marling.

Laura Marling

Laura Marling

Over the past 8 years Laura Marling has proven to be the most prolific and consistently interesting of any of the artists to come out of the late 00s British Nu-Folk scene.  With her her fifth record “Short Movie” released earlier this year, Laura’s recorded work paints a picture of an artist unafraid to evolve and change as the muse calls her.  And that’s just her studio work, her live performances are a complete entity in their own right.  Take for instance “I Feel Your Love,” an intense finger picked acoustic track from her latest record, which incredibly quickly evolved into this swampy electric number with her band.  The song’s journey wasn’t complete however, and just months later a new version surfaced from the director’s cut of her album providing me with my single biggest musical jaw drop of the year, “I Feel Your Love” had turned into the heaviest thing Laura has ever released.  Similar to an artist like Dylan who is not wed to the studio versions of his songs (Budokan version of “It’s Alright Ma” anyone?)  Laura treats her live show as something a bit more mercurial than just a chance to play her hits.  From alternative takes to covers to enough unrecorded (and often discarded) original songs to fill a couple of albums, Laura’s shows are filled with gems equal to, if not sometimes surpassing, the material on her records.  Seriously if your understanding of “Master Hunter” is the studio version you’re missing out kids, try the version she played on Letterman on for size.

So who is stepping up in the Laura Marling fan community to sift through all of Laura’s shows? Enter the invaluable assistance of Prey To None, an expertly organized and categorized Laura Marling blog dedicated solely to her live performances.  The site is run by Nightrocker, a self described “guy from England with a Laura Marling blog who goes by the name nightrocker.”  I was super excited to get in touch with him for a Laura Live themed Top Five Friday, thinking who better to serve up some Laura Marling gems? My expectations of the project were completely blown away when I saw what he had created.  Through videos of significant live performances of each album/era of Laura’s already almost decade long career, he’s created a fantastic overview of Laura’s creative journey up to this point.

I hope you all enjoy this today folks and share it with your friends.  Quite frankly I think what you’re about to read and watch is the defacto introduction to Laura Marling on the net!  So with out further ado, give it up for Top Five Fridays the Laura Marling Live Edition curated by Prey To None!

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I thought trying to pick 5 favourite Laura Marling live performances would be incredibly difficult for me but some came to mind immediately and then I decided to pick one from each of her albums which made it easier.  I wanted to do it this way because as well as being some of her best songs, I think the videos also show her progression as an artist and songwriter.  So these are listed chronologically:

1. My Manic and I – Live at St. James’ Church (2008)

This song and video is a reminder of how talented a songwriter and performer Laura has been right from the beginning of her career and how she had already built a good following at such a young age off the back of her own talent.  It reminds me why I was so excited about her back then about how good she could become.

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2. Goodbye England (Covered in Snow) – Live at Crossing Border (2011)

Simple bit effective.  This to me is why Laura is so good.  She can stand alone on stage with just an acoustic guitar and convey true emotions better than most.  I know quite a few people get emotional listening to this song (especially if they’re a distance away from loved ones) and in this video there are a couple of brief moments where it seems to be affecting Laura too.

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3. Sophia – Live on WNYC (2011)

Laura has sung and performed ‘Sophia’ in various ways over the years but this early solo version is still one of my favourites. This is the video I show to people who want to know why I think Laura is so good and for me, ‘Sophia’ will always be one of her best songs.
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4. Once I Was An Eagle Suite/Medley – Live on WNYC (2013)
I know I’m not alone in thinking the medley/suite of 4 songs that open the album ‘Once I Was An Eagle’ is Laura‘s finest moment so far.  She always sounds good performing it but this version is a particular favourite of mine.  It’s such a beautifully controlled performance, her voice sounds great and she makes it look effortless.  There is a funny small mistake whereLaura repeats a lyric but it’s just a little reminder that it’s not as easy as Laura makes it look!
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5. Short Movie – Live at Queen Elizabeth Hall (2015)
The short hair may be back (a 7 year cycle according to Laura) but this is very different from the first video I chose and her other early songs.  I think the song ‘Short Movie’ is a highlight of Laura‘s current album as it builds perfectly on Laura‘s sound so that the transition to electric guitar sounds natural and right.  What I like about this video is that Laura is clearly loving playing electric guitar and playing more loudly after years of acoustic guitar.  It also shows how Laura has come a long way but the best is yet to come in my opinion.  Can’t wait :).
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 Thanks so much Nightrocker!
I’ve already linked to it folks, but I can’t advise you enough to experience Prey To None.  If you are a fan of Laura’s albums, this is a whole other side of her music that you have to experience.
On the topic of Top Five Fridays, a couple months back Laura curated a playlist on spotify in honor of the extended cut of her album she was releasing.  I always think it’s incredibly eye opening to see what the artists you respect are listening to.  I want to hang with a lady who can put Tom Petty and Kendrick Lamar on the same playlist.
Although sadly the site is no longer updated and stops in 2014, while it lasted, Alas I Love Laura Marling was a wonderful resource to keep track of Laura’s interviews and other various comings and goings.  With Laura’s general lack of interest in social media, fan sites like this are super important resources.
Laura’s really not big on social media, but she has started posting to instagram on occasion.
Remember folks you can check out the rest of Top Five Fridays in the archives.  We have some great new artists coming through the pipe line in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned!
well peace out good people of the world,
Peter Winter
Peter Winter is so happy that it is October and he can start watching horror movies.  He talks about music and horror movies on twitter peterwinter38 
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