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Grooves: Laura Marling; Round Your House; Save our venues!

18 June, 2020 — By Róisín Gadelrab

Laura Marling at Union Chapel

ETHEREAL folk singer Laura Marling gave a glimpse of what the hybrid future of live music may be last week when she played the Union Chapel’s first ever ticketed live streamed gig to 4,000 viewers across Europe.

With tickets half the usual price, Marling, whose European tour has been cancelled, went straight into her relatively short set, playing songs from recent release Song For Our Daughter and a selection from her back catalogue – the urgent Rambling Man being the standout track among a relatively mellow set – with no introduction, to empty pews and aided by a masked roadie.

There was zero talk as the musician played to the hush below the chapel’s distinct stained windows, her pure vocals cutting across the silent room, the only set dressing being the candles that help create the Union Chapel’s unique atmosphere.

While watching from home can never replace the sense of event or intimacy that attending a live gig in a precious venue can bring (and a bit of chat could help breach the digital divide and give the audience a sense of place), the flexibility it gives – watching from your most comfortable seat, saving the cost of expensive drinks – may just mean that this format could work for those who cannot attend, or who are unable to get hold of limited tickets as venues limit entry to keep with distancing rules, while at the same time helping venues top up some of the missing income from their lower capacity.

• THERE has been a lot to consider in recent weeks. And the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement have long been reflected in music and culture.

Throughout lockdown, the Roundhouse has been running Round Your House, a series of online workshops, talks and performances to bring the Roundhouse into our homes.

Last week, HUH, a night of music and spoken word in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement was streamed live – a powerful selection of incredible poetry and musical artistry featuring the likes of Salenah Godden, Sophia Thakur, Kieron Rennie and many more.

But don’t worry if you missed it, you can find it on YouTube at youtu.be/ZL3FPOMTzEs

At the same time, while there are countless iconic songs that depict the age-old struggle against racism, we thought it might be a good time to put together a short playlist of music that captures the mood of the moment: Gregory Porter – 1960 What; Ben Harper – Oppression; The Staple Singers – If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me); Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised; Dave – Black.

• OUR venues are still struggling and there are countless crowdfunding efforts out there – just search your favourite venue and no doubt there is an online appeal for support.

But many are looking to offer online events in the meantime – check for updates from Spiritual Bar, 100 Club, The Social and many more.

The Green Note has launched Virtually Green Note, a series of specially curated gigs, with a £10 suggested donation – free to NHS workers.

Upcoming gigs streamed live from their homes include Mary Gauthier, Darden Smith and Will Kimbrough (June 19); Brooks Williams + Sally Barker + Freebo (June 24); and Open Mic hosted by Rob Thom (June 30).

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