‘Best of’ albums and tours are a grizzly beast, and Thea Gilmore is quick to highlight that she wanted her recent Ghosts and Graffiti to be something different. With this in mind she set about reworking some old classics, mixing them in with duets and new songs alike. Tonight it becomes clear that whilst the older songs are as relevant as they’ve ever been, it’s the reimagining of their sounds and delivery that carries them through.
This Girl Is Taking Bets benefits from Gilmore’s more mature vocal sound, and though she’s left to pick up Joan as Policewoman’s parts she delivers it with as much gusto and angst as the original. Meanwhile the new rendition of Juliet is made by the more prominent drum beat, which adds a new lease of life to the track, and Love Came Looking For Me is transformed by the triumphant string section.
Throughout the night we’re treated to anecdotes of drunken filming for the Jools Holland show, fans’ mistakes at the true meaning of Holding My Hand (which she rightly points out is unsubtly made clear in the final verse), and the backstory to Inch By Inch. It’s this ability to tell meaningful stories through song which has always been Gilmore’s calling card, her ability to capture both despondency and despair in one breath, and deliver songs of hope in the next. This is perhaps best showcased by My Voice, which no doubt feels just as fitting after the 2015 election results as is did in 2010.
Representing the newer material, Live Out Loud goes some way to highlighting that Gilmore hasn’t lost her ability to pen captivating songs, a catchy tune which in itself deserves the long overdue album top 40 slot. For me though it’s the moment when the band is pulled away for Thea to find herself dipped in a single spotlight for an unaccompanied rendition of Sol Invictus which showcases the purity of her voice.
Though the likes of Billy Bragg, Joan Baez, and Joan as Policewoman are no where to be found on tour, in their place is a full band who bring the multiple layers of the album to life. Tonight might well be something of a reflection of her journey to date, but it also stands to confirm that Gilmore has in many ways simply started as she means to go on.