London Palladium? Yes that's right! Somewhat of an odd venue for a gig but what a venue it is, a truly regal venue for a royal performance. Support came from Boy and Bear, a wicked Sydney-based fivesome who fuse the likes of Fleet Foxes and The Middle East delivering an uplifting, carefree vibe. They chucked in a cover of Bon Iver too, while not as being as mighty as the original it was a fair effort. I highly recommend these guys, so if they are playing near you soon get your behind down there! I love it when you get to a gig early, crossing your fingers that the support isn't going to be crap, and the Boy and Bear lads did just that.
With artwork like this, surely they can do nothing wrong!
Next on the bill was Alessi’s Ark - a timid duo from Hammersmith. Hell, the stage presence was floundering backstage with Boy and Bear, there was no audience interaction or engagement whatsoever! Yes she may have an interesting/good voice but charisma surely makes up for at least 15% of a performance. You could listen to the CD and it would be just as good, personally I think you need that extra dimension, giving the audience something more than just doing a live version of a current long player. The only cool thing about the act was their knitted CD cover.
OK so rant over... Right? Well I'm going to have to say, Laura Marling was astonishing. What a voice, what a band and what a venue, surely nothing could spoil this idyllic situation? But yet again a case of 'no-charisma' syndrome hit the stage. Brief shy exchanges were made with the crowd, but nothing worth writing home about. I suppose coming from a background in up tempo music may make me seem a bit raw. However, why should everyone flounder at her feet 'because she's such a great singer'? Maybe, these youngsters are just humble and want to play their music, maybe they are just overwhelmed to be so successful so young, but surely after being on the circuit for a few years, confidence surely would have prevailed?
Aside from her small talk - she brought an awesome show to her hometown. A packed palladium sat in silence taking in every blissful note. Indeed her voice was phenomenal, delivering her peaceful but meaning-felt melodies. She performed the first half of the gig with her band and the second solo, acoustically. Controversially she doesn't believe in encores. So she signposted two tracks from the end that it was her metaphorical 'encore' now as she ended on 'I Speak Because I Can'.
Overall it was a fantastic evening, where I discovered a little gem in Boy and Bear, they in some senses were the highlight for me, giving good banter and energy along with a powerful performance. Laura was excellent, I look forward to seeing her at Glastonbury this year, but I hope she manages to escape from the 'speechless' bubble she is engulfed in. I appreciate it's daunting, but its just a chat, come on love! Some sort of Gareth Gates reversal? Take a leaf out of your boyf's book (Marcus Mumford off of Mumford & Sons, FYI)!