Laura Marling/Sleepy Doug Shaw @ Housing Works Bookstore 06.14.11

After three years of fandom and many a failed attempt to see Ms. Laura Marling live, we finally did it on Tuesday night at a benefit show at Housing Works.  Cheep made the early arrival to guarantee us the best seats, front and center. After work, I met her and we snacked on Pret-A-Manger goodies as we waited for doors to open. We've been to Housing Works enough times to be in love with the place. Everything you buy, from the strangest book to their delicious chai lattes and muffins goes to benefit the homeless living with AIDS. The venue was truly perfect for Laura who performed, not coincidentally, in front of the "Rare & Unusual" stand of books.

Before her set, a self-declared jet-lagged Sleepy Doug Shaw, gave us a few songs. We hadn't heard him before but all we could say at the end was, "these Brits and their silky voices." He performed a cheeky cover of a song by a Sierra Leone artist despite his guitar having "airplane fevah" and it was "awesome" as some girl in the crowd reassured him it would be, since he seemed a bit nervous when he took the stage.

Seamlessly, Laura transitioned to the stage after a glowing introduction by Alan Light that made her blush a bit. He accurately called her "one of the best singer-songwriters of her generation." She looked down and fiddled with her guitar looking humbled in skinny jeans, white tee and sneakers, her blond hair untied and a bit wild... glowing. The bookstore was immediately silenced as she opened her completely acoustic set with "Rambling Man" and "Alpha Shallows," a few of my favorites from I Speak Because I Can. In between songs, the lady felt rude for having to tune her guitar so much, so the filler banter was kept to a minimum. She did manage to squeeze in a book recommendation, because she's dying to talk to someone about it, and kind words to those who chose to be there instead of the big Spider Man premiere with Bono, also happening that night. We laughed at that.

A few beer bottles clanked in the background but mostly, everyone seemed to be holding their breath, it was a impossible not to be when sitting so close to this gorgeous human being. She joked about not thinking her setlist through, "I hope you were not already sad." But tried to cheer us up by playing the theme song to Cinema Paradiso, which she half-mastered "bored" at the studio whilst recording her upcoming new album A Creature I Don't Know. A highlight for us was definitely getting a lot of those new songs, and it was hard not to tear up during "Night After Night."

Her voice is absolute goosebump business. Laura has a super calm stage presence, but she is like a rock getting thrown in a river, going from a tiny splash then rippling out into infinity with her voice. She wrapped the night with the amazing "I Speak Because I Can" and on the way out everyone finally exhaled, uplifted for what we had just seen, and a bit bummed we had to leave.

Amazing photos by Norlan Cruz here.
More videos, including her cover of "Blues Run The Game" here.


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