Music review: Laura Marling is sylph-like and glowing translucently at her Secret Cinema gig

5.00

The Grand Eagle Hotel, East London

"Good evening, Mr Gill," says the top-hatted commissionaire as we approach, "welcome back to The Grand Eagle Hotel." My wife raises an eyebrow. Honestly, I've never been here before - but then, neither has The Grand Eagle Hotel, which is a sort of pop-up performance space in an old mansion house, taken over for the month by the Secret Cinema organisation for the first of their Secret Music events.

The location has been set-dressed and peopled to evoke the subfusc, faded grandeur of a Twenties hotel, its clientele asked to dress accordingly and mingle amongst the staff as they fuss about us. 

In the Drawing Room, visitors draw self-portraits for incorporation in a larger montage. A troubadour sings quietly in the Chapel. A mad waif-girl spins creepily around the corridors, before engaging in steamy erotic psychodrama with one of the bellhops in a bedroom. A small, dilapidated cinema screens a scratchy print of Renoir's La Bête Humaine. Outside, across the croquet lawn, flowers decorate the tombstone of Rainer Maria Rilke. A receptionist hands me a message on hotel notepaper, saying she was asked to forward it to me. It reads (in the voice of, I imagine, Fenella Fielding), "My love - In just two weeks I will leave for Cambridge and I must see you before then. Three years is a long time to wait for you. I love you." For the second time tonight, my wife raises an eyebrow. 

It's all thoroughly engaging and magical, a marvellous evening's fun for which the climax is provided in the adjoining ballroom by Laura Marling, sylph-like and glowing translucently in a clingy floor-length white dress slit dramatically up the side, looking for all the world like the troubadour version of Veronica Lake.

The opening sequence from the wonderful Once I Was An Eagle is performed with accompanying double bass, cello and second guitar; but thereafter she holds the assembled quasi-toffs and fake flappers rapt with a Cohen-esque calm and control as she spins her delicate but impassioned webs of emotional autopsy, embellished solely with deft, subtle guitar work.

Highlights include the punchy "Master Hunter" and yearning "Once" - and when she reaches the line in the latter about "When I think about the land I left behind", you can't help thinking that, perhaps, it'll be nights like this that she remembers. A wonderful, involved and involving experience. 

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power