Concert Review: Thea Gilmore – Sage, Gateshead (November, 16 2012)
To the strains of Louis Armstrong singing Mac The Knife Thea’s band entered the stage followed, after 30 seconds, to warm applause Thea herself. She checked her guitar tuning then listening to the gravel throated jazz singer she smiled, clicked her fingers and swayed to the beat.
Resplendent in smart black jacket and hot pants over some very racy patterned black laced tights that emphasised just how tall she is, Thea launched into Contessa from her Harpo’s Ghost album.
It is very noticeable how the slightly nervous girl singer from 10 years ago has grown into a confident woman performer. She commented how nice it was too be back in Gateshead saying that instead of doing a Sandy Denny Tribute, singing Dylan songs, promoting an album or single this time she was here to be “playing because I want to play”.
The decision to perform her own excellent stock of songs was one that went down well not only with an enthralled audience but with this reviewer. The choice of playing with a fine a group of backing musicians was also inspired. Thea’s songs, although in many ways meditative and requiring careful listening, benefit from the intricate and wonderful wrapping devised by husband, guitar player, band leader and album producer Nigel Stonier.
Over about ninety or so minutes the gorgeous voice of Thea (that’s Th as in Theatre not T as in Tea by the way) led us through her catalogue. Highlights were Red, White & Black again from Harpo’s Ghost and Roll On, Roll On from Liejacker. But you could hear a pin drop when the band left the stage to allow us to hear a sublime accapella version of a new song The Amazing Floating Man which equated bankers to being a performer on a high wire circus act.
The band returned to end the show with further journeys down Thea’s songwriting past, as equisite versions of Old Soul, Inverigo and You’re The Radio amongst others had her fans enthralled.
Encoring with the anthemic Are We Ready (with crowd sing -a-long) and declining to sing December in New York for one over excited fan –“ I have a rule I only sing songs with December in the title – in December” she left us with the wistful new song that (I think) was called Goodbye My Friend.
It was a pleasure to be back listening to Thea Gilmore singing and playing Thea Gilmore.
(This Review first appeared in The Sunday Sun Newspaper)