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Telford's Warehouse, Chester 23 June 2008

Photo: 2008 David Humphries

For some inexcusable reason this was the first time I'd caught Thea Gilmore live, despite possessing a fair smattering of her back catalogue. It was also my first visit to Telford's Warehouse, which must be commended for its idyllic setting next to the canal, its range of cask beers, its fine sound system, general ambience and free parking. What more could you want?

With a capacity of around 100 Telford's was a pretty perfect venue to discover just how good a live performer Thea Gilmore is. Ably aided and abetted by long time musical collaborator (and husband) Nigel Stonier on acoustic guitar and harmonica, and Fluff on cello and fiddle, Thea treated the (it has to be said, somewhat restrained) audience to a workout of large chunks of her recently released Liejacker album interspersed with material reaching back as far as her excellent 2002 Rules For Jokers album.

Showing no hint of the traumas that have afflicted her life in recent times - parting with her record company and long time manager, giving birth to her first child, and bouts of depression, Thea was in fine fettle and seemed positively relaxed - bantering with 'the band' and the audience between numbers.

In keeping with the 'back to basics' approach adopted on Liejacker, the evening was a very acoustic and folk based affair that showcased both Thea's songs and vocals, but which also served to underline just what a good live performer she is. It was however striking that the audience was a good one or two decades older than Thea herself.

Now she probably doesn't mind that (husband Nig fits neatly into that demographic) but it is a sad indictment of today's record buying public that artists as good as Thea Gilmore can't attract a more contemporary audience. All I can do is commend her to you.

Set list: Old Soul / Seen It All Before / Rosie / Dance In New York / You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) / God's Got Nothing On You / Sisters Of Mercy / Saviours And All / If You Miss Me At The Back Of The Bus / Black Letter / Avalanche / Call Me Your Darling / This Girl Is Taking Bets / Are You Ready / Razor Valentine / When I Get Back To Shore / The Lower Road.

Review by Pete Whalley

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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