Live review: Laura Marling supported by Jay Jay Pistolet @ The Scala, London

Arriving half way through Pete’s Roe’s set at the already incredibly crowded Scala on Tuesday, the excitement in the air was palpable. This was The Night Terror Tour’s homecoming and, after a brief trip around the UK and a longer one around the US with Mumford and Sons and Johnny Flynn, Laura Marling was back where it all began. 

Support came from For Folk’s Sake favourite Jay Jay Pistolet who quickly launched into his opener Always On My Way Back Home. Only those who were there to witness the formerly frenetic atmosphere could understand what a coup it was that silence descended.

M. Pistolet brought on backing musicians for EP title track Happy Birthday You who, if anything, made his ethereal retro sound even more sparse. His set included two as-yet-unnamed new tracks, one of which contained the line ‘You were Blonde on Blonde but a whole lot better,’ which FFS thinks is about the nicest compliment a person could pay.

The capacity crowd were enthralled throughout, and Jay Jay clearly appreciated it, thanking the audience repeatedly for being ‘polite’ and ‘kind’. But that wasn’t kindness, it was awe.

Laura Marling’s new-song heavy setlist went down well with the notoriously old-song-favouring gig-goers. She played choice tracks from Alas I Cannot Swim: including Cross Your Fingers, a raucous version of You’re No God, and Ghosts, which raised an almighty cheer from the lumberjack-shirt-clad crowd.

Marling’s backing band, in an abundance of tweed and tartan, was noticeably missing Marcus Mumford and Ted Dwane from Mumford and Sons on percussion and double bass, something Laura alluded to in one of her tentative attempts at on-stage banter. The pair have been replaced by Graham Ross on bass and Dave Sanderson on drums.

Among the highlights of the show for this reviewer were Phil Fiddle’s haunting violin solo on Night Terror and the closing song Alas I Cannot Swim, which turned into a full on Hoe down. But it’s Laura’s new material that is really exciting, songs such as Rambling Man and Rebecca – often played live but not yet released – suggest that, astonishingly, the best may still be to come. 

Words: Lynn Roberts