The last time I went to a proper rock concert was years ago, when I saw Elton John take the Winter Gardens at Bournemouth by storm.
The audience was noisy but respectful, especially when he launched into mega-hits like Crocodile Rock and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
But if Laura Marling’s concert at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall on Friday night was anything to go by, today’s concert-goers are a far trickier proposition. It was the second day of her UK tour and not surprisingly, the gig was a sell-out. The singer has a voice that sends shivers down your spine and deservedly won the Brit award for best female solo artist in 2011. I saw her perform at Birmingham Cathedral in the autumn and she was mesmerising. This concert was different though – part of a fully-blown, countrywide tour, with supporting acts and a backing band.
Considering we’d all paid £25 a ticket to hear her sing, I couldn’t believe how annoying some some of the audience were. Scores of people trotted out to the loo midway through songs, clip-clopping down the aisle in noisy shoes. One ill-mannered man near the front kept bellowing “talk to us” in between songs (Marling doesn’t do the usual sort of chat), girls kept whooping (“you’ll have sore throats in the morning,” warned the singer) and at one bizarre point a dog barked.
But Marling and her band, professional to the core, kept their cool and kept belting out the music. Once I’d managed to ignore the infuriating people, I sat back and enjoyed songs like the haunting Goodbye England (Covered in Snow), Sophia and a new number called I am the Master Hunter.
The whole experience made me admire the 22-year-old singer even more. It struck me, too, that if actors had to contend with the yelling, mobile phones, dogs, whoops and rudeness, they’d storm offstage in a trice. The self-possessed Laura Marling, however, soldiered impressively on and turned out a sterling performance. If you get the chance, go and see her in concert. It’s a treat.