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Laura Marling at El Presidio Chapel

Sandra Berntsson

Laura Marling at El Presidio Chapel


Laura Marling at El Presidio Chapel

A Stunning Voice, a Beautiful Venue, and a Memorable Night of Music


Laura Marling’s stunning Saturday-night performance matched its awe-inducing venue: El Presidio Chapel, a reconstruction of the 18th-century Spanish colonial church that was Santa Barbara’s first. While not your typical concert spot, the space perfectly fit Marling’s lulling, haunted lyrics and classically inspired acoustic guitar. She sang at the altar while a solid crowd sat under the glow of candles lining the makeshift auditorium.

Marling took to the stage solo, accompanied from time to time by brief harmonies and cello. The sorrow-tinged inflections of her voice coaxed out a magic and antiquity that felt well beyond her 22 years. Her maturity also enabled her to comfortably slip into Neil Young’s “Needle and the Damage Done” without the slightest feeling of displacement. The majority of Saturday’s set list stemmed from Marling’s 2010 release, I Speak Because I Can, with only three songs from her newest album, A Creature I Don’t Know. Luckily, this included the cascading guitar and dizzying aestheticism of “Sophia,” in which she sings, “When the bell tolls for your last day, you’ll be getting down on your knees to pray.” It did feel a little bit as if we had wandered into some sort of dark church service as Marling deliberated over ideas of sin and redemption. The highlight, however, was “Goodbye England (Covered in Snow),” during which we remembered that Marling is still a 22-year-old who reminisces about her home as she wanders through the world with startling independence. n

Setlist:

1. “What He Wrote”

2. “Hope in the Air”

3. “Rambling Man”

4. “Blackberry Stone”

4. “The Needle and the Damage Done” (Neil Young cover)

5. “Made by Maid”

6. “Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)”

7. “The Muse”

8 “Pray for Me”

9. “Flicker and Fail”

10. “Once Is Enough”

11. “Don’t Ask Me Why”

12. “Little Lies”

13. “Sophia”

14. “I Speak Because I Can”

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