BREVIEW: Laura Marling @ O2 Institute 14.03.17

BREVIEW: Laura Marling @ O2 Institute 14.03.17 / Rachel Mason - Birmingham Review




 Words by Damien Russell  Pics by Rachel Mason

Hot on the heels of her album release, Laura Marling embarked on a 32 date international tour  – playing to a sold out show at the O2 Institute on 14th of March.

It’s a gig I’ve been looking forward to. I like the album, Semper Femina (although it’s not perfect), but my friend is a long-term fan of Laura Marling and is mad keen for the show. I’ve not seen Marling before but hear good things, so I ignore the fact it’s been a long and stressful day and commute up from Basingstoke to be there just as the support band are starting.

Said support are a four piece country/soft rock group who are melodic but slow. The singer’s quite quiet and in-between songs I have no idea what he’s saying, so I must confess I never got their name. They unfortunately fail to get my enthusiasm, and I see pockets of people chatting who seem equally disengaged.

The band are clearly competent but just a bit too slow and a bit too laid back. Their last song, before clearing the stage for Laura Marling, is an up-tempo number and exactly what they should have been doing the whole time. It’s a shame as you can see they recognise that song is the best received, but just don’t seem to have made the connection.

BREVIEW: Ethan Jones – supporting Laura Marling @ O2 Institute 14.03.17 / Rachel Mason - Birmingham ReviewI notice there doesn’t seem to be much activity preparing the stage. It seems odd but I don’t have to wait long to find out why; out with Laura Marling come the bass player and drummer from the support group, as part of her backing band. A nice touch and something that must make the tour more efficient. Additionally Marling has two backing singers and an electric guitarist.

The first song of Laura Marling’s set is ‘Soothing’, the opening track from the album. In fact the first five tracks tonight are the first five off Semper Femina, played in tracklist order. ‘Soothing’ is my favourite song off Semper Femina and while I feel it’s only right that it has such a prominent place in tonight’s set, I am disappointed that the double bass I’m certain must have been used on the record to get that fantastic deep sound is nowhere to be seen. The double bass does feature on later songs in Laura Marling’s set tonight, but not on the one I feel it really needed (to read Damien Russell’s Birmingham Review of Semper Femina, click here).

BREVIEW: Laura Marling @ O2 Institute 14.03.17 / Rachel Mason - Birmingham ReviewThe five track Semper Femina section is followed by a tri-song treat of Laura Marling on her own, performing tracks #7 and #8 (‘Next Time’ and ‘Nothing, Not Nearly’) again from her latest LP, alongside ‘What He Wrote’ from the 2010 album I Speak Because I Can. The final new track, ‘Nouel’, finishes off this section of the set with the full band again. I like the split and the way all of the new tracks are performed together, it has a touch of the dramatic about it and is something I rarely see done.

The tracks themselves are lovingly reproduced from the album to the stage, and although I pick up a couple of small arrangement changes for the live setting each track is easily connected to the studio version. But when Laura Marling takes the stage alone, it’s a real highlight of the set; her stripped down version of ‘Nothing, Not Nearly’ is, in my opinion, much better than the album version. Her solo performance of ‘What He Wrote’ is the best song in the set by far.

BREVIEW: Laura Marling @ O2 Institute 14.03.17 / Rachel Mason - Birmingham ReviewFollowing the new material, Laura Marling and her band run through some of her best known other songs – including ‘Daisy’, ‘Don’t Ask Me Why’ and ‘Darkness Descends’ – before ending the set with ‘Rambling Man’ and her trademark announcement that she doesn’t do encores.

Musically, the group were solid and the songs are obviously good, but there’s something missing in the band’s performance tonight that makes me wonder if they’re as well rehearsed as they could be. There have been a few minor slip-ups tonight; nothing major, but coming from either inexperience in the musicians (hard to believe) or a lack of preparation time.

Laura Marling herself is excellent musically but spends the gig gazing into the middle distance, leaving me feeling a she’s not entirely with us tonight. We get a couple of “how are you?” but little in the way of other banter or engagement.BREVIEW: Laura Marling @ O2 Institute 14.03.17 / Rachel Mason - Birmingham Review

On the whole, it was a good night but it was far from a great one; even the reactions from the other crowd members seemed muted. I think next time I see Laura Marling (and yes, I think there will be a next time) I’ll make sure it’s at one of her solo shows. Otherwise I’ll stick to the albums.

For more on Laura Marling, visit

For more from O2 Institute, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit

For more from SJM Concerts/Gigs and Tours, visit



BPREVIEW: Bullet for My Valentine @ O2 Academy 07.12.16

BPREVIEW: Bullet for My Valentine @ O2 Academy 07.12.16




Words by Ed King

On Wednesday 7th December, Bullet for My Valentine come to the O2 Academy Birmingham – performing their debut album, The Poison. Support comes from Killswitch Engage + Cane Hill.Birmingham Preview

Doors open at 7pm with an 11pm curfew. Tickets are priced at £30 (+booking fee) as presented by Live Nation. For direct gig info and online tickets sales, click here.

Formed in back in 1998, under their original name Jeff Killed John, it would be their 2005 The Poison album (and shift in musical direction) that would stamp Bullet for My Valentine into the metalcore scene in the UK, Europe and the US.

Produced by Colin Richardson (Cradle of Filth, Napalm Death, Slipknot), The Poison was something of a powerhouse debut – with the BBC’s Joe Gooden describing the ‘54 minutes of twisted, dark, uncompromising metal’ as ‘an ugly, bloody mess of dense, relentless melodic metalcore, the-poisonduelling vocal harmonies and chugging guitars, perfect for tinnitus-risking kids everywhere.’ Not sure I’ve seen that section on HMV’s shelves, but when the opening line of an album track makes your singer pass out (“LETS GO” – on ‘Tears Don’t Fall’) then I guess you’re a bit above or beyond.

The Poison charted at No21 on the UK Album Charts, and led to Bullet for My Valentine playing the Download and Kerrang! Festivals, alongside a North American tour supporting Rob Zombie. The band released four singles from their debut album, with the singer flooring ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ winning the 2006 Kerrang! Award for Best Single. And apparently, if you listen closely, you can hear him drop.

‘Tears Don’t Fall’ – Bullet for My Valentine

Bullet for My Valentine come to the O2 Academy (B’ham) on Wednesday 7th December – performing their 2005 debut album, The Poison. Support comes from Killswitch Engage + Cane Hill. For direct gig info and online tickets sales, click here.


For more on Bullet for My Valentine, visit

For more from the O2 Academy (B’ham), including full event listing and online ticket sales, visit

For more form Live Nation, visit