Laura Marling in concert tonight. Recorded live at the BBC 6 Music Festival in Bristol this past weekend, and preserved for posterity by the venerable BBC 6 Music (naturally).
When My Space was relevant and a vital source of discovering new talent (between 2006 and 2008), the flood of bands and artists posting demos, eps and singles was, admittedly, an embarrassment of riches. Not just musicians, but photographers, writers, visual artists; an entire world of new and untapped talent from all over the world. Much of it was good. Some of it was derivative and some of it was awful – but it was all there and all available for you to check out. What made MySpace so unique was its search engine. You were able to pin-point your browsing to a city, country, genre, and you would be given anywhere from 20 – 1,000 artists to dig through – sometimes taking hours or even days – and there were always more, every day.
But sadly, MySpace was sold, and what made it unique became the first to go. New and undiscovered talent was replaced by whatever new act a major label was pushing – usually having nothing in common with what you were interested in, and usually as far from needing exposure as yet another article or photo spread of a Kardashian.
And very soon, MySpace became a ghost town – abandoned for other sites like Soundcloud who, although they touted a substantial treasure trove of new talent, didn’t have (and still don’t have) the search engine which made pin-point browsing possible. And even though MySpace has been attempting a resurrection of sorts, the corpse is too far gone to bring back – and what they lost they haven’t been able to get back. Too bad.
I bring all this up to say, my first introduction to Laura Marling was via MySpace, around 2007. She was posting demos and writing about gigs and where she was heading next and when she was next going to go into the studio – and you felt very much plugged into the process a new artist went through to get exposure. The hopeful and the not-so-hopeful parts.
Laura Marling was one of that group considered to be Nu-Folk, along with a band who were also at the demo stage; Mumford and Sons. And like Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling was relentless in getting her message and her music out – gigging at every club, open-mike and festival she could get to. There were many others around at that time. Some have also made it, some are still gigging in search of discovery and and audience and others have dropped out of sight.
But the thing about Laura Marling, even during that formative period, was that you knew there was something special and different about her – about her voice (reminiscent in places of Joni Mitchell, and in other places of Laura Nyro) and about her writing.
So in the 10 years since those early days of demos and downloads, Laura Marling has become a huge success. I can’t say I’m surprised by it, because I remember reading all the reports of all the struggle and hearing the demos. A talented artist; without question, but also a textbook study in how perseverance can work.
But the bottom line – she did a great show last week, and the audience was with her 100%. One of the highlights of an extraordinary festival and another indication music is still capable of being in very good and vital places.
A little over 75 minutes – so relax and enjoy.