From When Brave Bird Saved – “Take the Night Off” (at 1:05)
“I’m a fool to do your dirty work, oh yeah.”
Laura Marling ended a captivating evening at the 9:30 Club last Friday, July 31st, with a cover of Steely Dan’s “Dirty Work”. Based on a few blank faces nearby, it seemed just possible some of the younger crowd weren’t as familiar with the song (which I happen to love, too bad for them). But they soon warmed to it once the refrain kicked in and Marling’s voice took on new intensity.
Marling, a British folk singer-songwriter, started off her show with long, flowing renditions of “Take the Night Off” and “I Was an Eagle”. Afterwards she promised that would be the last of the 10-minute songs, yet no one would have minded if she continued.
The guitar she opened with lit up like Christmas ornament, as it reflected light from many angles. She relied heavily on a steady rotation of guitars, to match the song and the mood.
Marling, with five albums to her credit already (and at only age 25), is touring on the strength of her latest album, Short Movie, released earlier this year. Yet she only played four songs from Short Movie, instead relying on her previous four albums and a few covers to round out the 21-song set.
She called on stage both of the opening acts, Johnny Flynn and Marika Hackman, to sing with her at various times including a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind”, the Foo Fighters’ “Tired of You” and the last song. She even joined Flynn for a couple of songs during his earlier set.
The lights and the background visuals, at one point a desert, along with her poetic lyrics, were stark reminders of the melancholy mood that much of the music conveyed. “How Will I” and “Take the Night Off” both are laments with on undercurrent of hope.
The crowd, in the completely full 9:30 Club, sang along to much of the night. Marling would also frequently stop to chat and be friendly with the audience.
At the end, Marling eschewed encores because, “I’m British and they’re too awkward.” But she’s still willing to do the dirty work for us.