LIVE REVIEW: Laura Marling with Willy Mason @ Grace Cathedral, SF 6/29/12
It’s the rare artist who can master a venue as formidable as San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. The church sits atop Nob Hill, a spectacular beacon in the swirling fog; it boasts otherworldly acoustics and breathtaking architecture. Most musicians would be easily overshadowed by its beauty, dwarfed by its cavernous interior, but London’s Laura Marling is not “most musicians”. In an experience that could only be described as religious, the petite (and powerful) singer made the sacred space her own.
After an intimate performance by New York troubadour, Willy Mason, Ms. Marling took the stage. She and her full band launched into I Speak Because I Can’s “Rambling Man,” performing a confident and authentic rendition that set the tone for the hour-long set. The band touched upon all three albums in her repertoire, jumping effortlessly from the jovial title track of Alas I Cannot Swim to A Creature I Don’t Know‘s “Rest In the Bed.” Firmly anchored by Marling’s captivating presence, the show felt cohesive; even a solo set in the middle, which featured a cover of Jackson C. Frank’s “Blues Run the Game” and two new tracks, meshed well with the orchestral fury of “The Muse,” “Hope In the Air,” and more.
There’s no question that Marling has grown as an artist, but this sense of continuity made it clear that she’d grown as a performer as well. Though the folk singer still opens her shows with the same unassuming greeting (“Hello, I’m Laura”), what was once timidity has now become unabashed—and deserved—self-assurance. There aren’t many who could dazzle an audience in such a striking setting, but Laura Marling did just that. We were enthralled, we were moved, we were….well, converted.
For more photos of Laura Marling and Willy Mason at the Grace Cathedral, click here.