Tonight was a first for Bluesdoodles, we came to hear and see the support Gill Landry – why? When the main event was Laura Marling who was visiting Colston Hall performing at yet another sell out gig? Bluesdoodles was sent a digital download of Gill Landry’s forth coming self-titled album; I can let you into a secret it is a perfect gem of an album. Gill is from Louisiana and is the banjo, slide guitarist player for The Old Crow Medicine Show demonstrates the depth and contours of musical experience that has shaped the songs on his new album being showcased tonight in Bristol.
With photo pass and the excitement of seeing an artist that you have met through the power of recorded music I hoped he would live up to my high expectations. I am delighted to say he did his stage presence, guitar playing and lyrics grabbed the rapidly filling hall and we all clapped with delight. Gill, started with three numbers as a solo acoustic act, the last a stylish instrumental full of finger picking magic as the notes phished and pinged across the stage and up to the rafters, this is acoustic guitar full of life rhythm and soul He was joined by fiddle player, Odessa Jorgenson who add the depth of tone of backing vocals to augment the country blues introspective tone and shape of his vocals. Tracks from his latest album dotted the set including Waiting For Your Love and Emily, full iconography his vocals take the centre stage so it is poetry set to music and the talent of the songwriter just shines through the stage was aglow with Gills brand of music. Joining him on stage Laura Marling doing a live version of Take This Body a track from his third solo album, the full weight of this rather disconsolate but romantic ballad the full weight that a live performance gives to any song. Laura and the band stayed on stage for the last number, adding to the depth of musical delight we had already heard from Gill Landry a warm up act who gained new fans tonight. An excellent opening act, I for one would have liked to hear more but we had Laura waiting in the wings to entertain us.
Set List Gill Landry
Funeral in my heart
Never coming here again
Last steam engine/James alley blues
Waiting for your love
Take this body
The stage dwarfed diminutive Laura as the lights came up and the backdrop screen of a stark Californian desert scence a was revealed, but as soon as she struck her first chord and shared her first song full of words that strung out across the stage into the auditorium her fans were delighted and sat back to be entertained the Marling way for the next ninety minutes. The stage was sparse and the backdrop movie moved slowly as the sun rose and fell and night in the desert came and as the stars shone in an inky back sky the last song was sung. Laura shared her thoughts and emotions through the music there was no chatting better the songs they ebbed and flowed sometimes on acoustic, with double bass and other times electric, the band came and went and returned. It is well-known that as in 2013 in an interview with Neil McCormick, “I am a solitary person but I love people, I’m not a misanthrope. I like the idea of speaking only when it’s strictly necessary. The closest I ever feel to people is in shared experience. I’m still exploring that, I don’t know where it’s going to lead me. But there are others like me, that’s all I’m trying to say. I’m not alone.”
Tonight on stage the music was the medium of communication, she acknowledged the audience and Bristol and then got back to playing the Marling style of music shaping the guitar and vocals around a music that reflected the mood, yes contemporary folk; with pop but into the mix were licks and phrases that made the music prog-folk with a freeform flow especially when the drummer was added into the mix. Her voice is distinctive and is a mix of Patti Smith, Stevie Nix topped off with that ice-queen control that is Laura Marling with a hint of Nick Drake. Tonight she opened with Howl as she leaves a sleeping lover in the morning desert sun of the backdrop, we heard from her back catalogue including the title track of her fourth album Master Hunter and Goodbye England Covered with Snow from her 2010 album, I Speak Because I Can, absorbed completely in her music she throws back her head, plays the guitar then picks up the lyrics as her chilling voice reached out across the Bristol audience touching everyone as the appreciative silence deepened. Daisy one of the bonus track from her latest album Short Movie, for which we had no hard sell. Her music was given shape by various tempos but always the lyrics that captivated, Laura left the stage having told the audience that this is the last, there will be no encore. She played to a cross-section of people; young, her stalwart fans and many from the folk scene around Bristol. The house lights went up and the stage fell dark and silent Laura had been and touched Bristol with her gently almost shy stage presence but left the touch of her music on everyone’s soul.
Neil McCormick (25 September 2013). “Mercury Music Prize 2013: Laura Marling, interview”. The Telegraph. Retrieved14 October 2014.