24/09/2010 | Thea Gilmore – The Theatre, Chipping Norton

Lisa Ward

On home turf there was little question that Thea was going to be well received, nevertheless in a set which sandwiched old classics between an abundance of new songs, she proved that even after ten albums she hasn’t lost her punch. It’s fair to say that her poetical nature is what propels the set forward, whilst musically the arrangements are tight and sensitive, it is Thea’s ability to weave lyrical magic throughout each song that brings her performance to life.

She opens with a stripped back version of Saviours And All, which feels almost like a kick back at her recent radio play but this soon softens as she meanders into tracks from her recent album. Whilst God’s Got Nothing On You still delivers a clout, with Thea utilising her guitar to create an added drum beat, How The Love Gets In and Nigel’s accompaniment on keys is a far cry from the cynicism found on earlier albums.

It’s Automatic Blue however that delivers the sting of the night, conversely for the softness of the track and honesty that the lyrics convey. When placed between Thea’s somewhat bizarre cover of P!nk’s Get The Party Started and a solo slot from Nigel it seems to carry even more weight, becoming a heartbreaking rendition which stills the audience to silence. Once again, Thea’s ability to survey the world, notably reflecting that ‘love is either wild frontiers, or automatic blue’ resonates beyond the content of the song.

Thea might have dropped the potentially predictable Icarus Wind from the set but in its place she offers This Girl Is Taking Bets promptly followed by Coffee And Roses, which seem to work as a perfect doubling of how Thea has changed during the course of the album releases. Whilst the former seems to be little more than a self deprecating number, the second seems almost like a subtle rewriting of This Girl, allowing for the positive influence of another. ‘I’m the architect of sorrow, the girl in minor key disguise, my baby leads me to the water, wraps the sun behind his coat’ she muses in the latter, and it certainly seems like a reflection of how Thea view of relationships has begun to soften.

Despite a career spanning over a decade, Thea has never really stepped into the limelight of mainstream success but it seems that perhaps this is how she still holds her charm. Captivating audiences in low key venues where the focus is on sound and song rather than fancy effects, Thea delights at every turn. All it takes is a closing nod to her folk routes with the delivery of and an a cappella rendition of The Parting Glass and Thea confirms that glitz and glam is no real substitute for passion and power.

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