Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Laura Marling - 2 February 2012, The Forum

This show delivered a lot of surprises from what I had expected (admittedly my expectations were based on pretty limited knowlege).  The first surprise was the crowd - overwhelmingly girls in their early 20's.  Nothing wrong with that (and as someone pointed out to me, there is a lot of worse bands they could be into), but it isn't the normal crowd I see and it wasn't something I expected.  Also worth noting that the crowd were incredibly into the show, clapping enthusiastically after the first couple of notes of each song, and frequently singing along (fortunately they did this relatively quietly and in key, so it actually had a really nice effect).  The second surprise was that Laura Marling is much more Joni Mitchell than Neko Case.  I personally prefer Case to Marling, but that didn't stop me enjoying the show.  The highlight for hardcore fans seems to have been the relatively rare cover of Ryan Adam's Winding Wheel.  Personally I felt it was a little underdone (as she noted after the song).  For a casual fan (like me) her regular set was good enough to make this a very enjoyable show.
Soundwise, Marling is very softly spoken which made it hard to get her frequent talking to the crowd at a volume that is easily audible, without adding a lot of background hum.  End the end I opted for audible, and minimised the hum as much as possible, although it was impossible to eliminate it.  With the benefit of hindsight I'd set the gain a bit higher, but going into the show I had no idea if that would produce a listenable recording or not.  Anyway, after much delay here it is.

I Was Just a Card
The Muse
Don't Ask Me Why
Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)
My Winding Wheel (Night Terror was listed on the setlist as an alternative song for this spot)
New Song (the setlist listed this as 'New Song')
Flicker & Fail
Night After Night
My Friends
Alas, I Cannot Swim
Rambling Man
All My Rage

PS: I know a lot of people are hanging out for the Ryan Adams show.  I'm about halfway through doing it, and will have it up by the weekend at the latest (hopefully earlier).  So far it sounds good, although it has the same issue as this show in terms of trying to make some of the quiet sections easily audible, without having too much hum.  So far it sounds like it'll still be a very good listen.

PPS: I think the problem is that I've been recording with too little gain, which hasn't had a noticeable effect for louder shows but is very noticeable for these two.  Easy to fix for future recordings, but proving very difficult to fix for Ryan Adams.  Right now I'm getting heartily sick of the constant background buzz which I can't seem to get rid of.  My current solution is to try to minimise it as much as I can without making the recording sound too artificial, and recommend that you don't use headphones to listen.  Taking that approach the recording seems good, and I'm still planning on getting it up in the next few days.

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