Originally published for The Skinny.
Laura Marling & BBC SSO @ Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 19 Jan
Shining a light on female artists is very much at the forefront of this year’s Celtic Connections festival, so what better way to kick off proceedings than with a night full of incredible female performances?
Scottish singer-songwriter Karine Polwart shouts out ‘female power’ during her performance on the festival’s opening night at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall, acknowledging many of the women performing at the evening’s event and throughout the festival, as well as those working behind the scenes. This follows a bill of eclectic folk-based artists from near and far, ranging from young Scottish talents Rachel Sermanni and Adam Holmes to Sahrawi singer Aziza Brahim.
The evening’s headliner Laura Marling performs orchestral reworkings of tracks selected from across her five albums, arranged beautifully by Kate St. John. Accompanied by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jules Buckley, Marling begins with epic versions of the tracks that opened her 2013 album Once I Was an Eagle; Take the Night Off, and I Was an Eagle.
Marling tells the audience she’s learnt a lot about Glasgow’s history during her two days in town, and how much she has enjoyed her time in the city, before introducing Goodbye England (Covered In Snow). It’s a slow-burner, but as more audience members begin to pick up on the joke, ripples of applause break out and eventually lead to cheers. Patriotism is certainly alive and well at Celtic Connections.
Returning to the stage for her final song, Marling performs latest single Wild Fire, from her upcoming album Semper Femina, alone with just her acoustic guitar. The closer proves that Marling can put on a spine-tingling performance like no other, with or without the bells and whistles.