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Pacific Road Arts Centre, Birkenhead
23 September 2010
On a grey
autumnal night, on the opening date of her Murphy's Heart tour, Thea
Gilmore once again gave a masterclass in female singer songwriter
How she hasn't broken into the mainstream is something of a mystery,
although ticking all the boxes from acoustic balladeer to rock goddess
makes her difficult to pigeon hole. And sadly, universal acclaim
typically arrives in pigeon hole shaped packages.
Supported by an outstanding band of hubbie Nigel Stonier (who looks
increasingly like Ronnie Wood's younger twin), a rock solid rhythm
section of Roy Martin on drums and Vickie Edwards on bass, FM guitarist
Jim Kirkpatrick, and the exceptional Fluff on fiddle, the set oscillated
between delicate acoustic numbers and 'full on' commercial rock.
against a backdrop of South American tijuana (it almost sounded like the
Benny Hill theme and for a moment I half expected to see Nige chasing
Thea around the drum riser) the set exploded with Come Up With Me, Thea
adopting her best Chrissie Hynde rock chic stance, legs astride the mic
and oozing attitude.
And that dominatrix mode - centre stage and looking every inch a rock
star - was a persona she returned to time and time again throughout the
set - on the thrusting, throbbing and fumbling 'love' song Driving Home,
against a back drop of some first-rate slide guitar on Have You Heard
and the frantic Mainstream, and the outstanding Down To Nowhere.
At the other end of the spectrum were the mournful fiddle backed Coffee
And Roses and Automatic Blue from her new album - two of the evening's
highlights - the piano backed That's How The Love Gets In, and the
plaintive acoustic folk of Old Soul.
sandwiched in-between were the pop/rock I'm The Radio and the rootsy
Call Me Your Darling which had an almost Springsteen feel provided by
Nige's harmonica and Fluff's superb fiddle.
The one constant thread was Thea's impeccable vocals, with the encores
once again demonstrating the breadth of her qualities. During Holding
Your Hand, alone with her acoustic guitar, you could hear a pin drop as
she held the audience spellbound, while Are You Ready closed the night
in resounding fashion as she once again adopted her best rock stance.
If there's a better vocalist among her peers, then I'm Ernie the
Milkman. Catch the tour - which runs until 15th October - if you can.
Set list: Come Up With Me / Call Me Your Darling / Coffee And Roses ./
Automatic Blue / Have You Heard? / That's How The Love Gets In / You
Belong To Me / Old Soul / Not Alone / Down To Nowhere / Teach Me To Be
Bad / This Girl Is Taking Bets / You're The Radio / Mainstream / Holding
Your Hand / Are You Ready?
Thea Gilmore regularly
features in the singer-songwriter sequence on
to ROCK! Radio, Mon-Fri 14:00-16:00 (GMT)