Teddy Thompson and Roseanne Reid, EartH, London - 28th January 2022
The first gig of 2022! A double bill of the children of musicians - Teddy is the son of Richard and Linda Thompson, folk legends and ex Fairport Conventioners. Meanwhile, Roseanne Reid is the daughter of Proclaimer Craig Reid. I will attempt to write this review without referencing walking 500 miles to get to the venue, but you know...no promises...
I meet my Uni friend Natalie for the show. It’s the first time we have caught up in an age - life and pandemics have got in the way. She is keen we get in early to see the support act - apparently she has told me before that Roseanne Reid is a Proclaimer’s offspring, but I have forgotten and am already late (a few beers with another old Uni friend have delayed me).
However, we make it in in time for most of Roseanne's set. She stands alone on stage, acoustic guitar and occasional harmonica for company. She is understated, charming, quietly talking about her life, her wife, the pandemic and studying horticulture. Don't let that relaxed stage presence fool you though, she has a pair of lungs on her and her voice has a strong Scottish accent and is smoky, cool - perfect for a country / soul singer.
You can hear some influences - apparently she is a Steve Earle fan and the feeling seems to be mutual (Earle duets on Sweet Annie on her debut album Trails). The songs are gentle, sweet and she clearly adores her wife ("When I'm miles away, she brings me home and I love her so" she sings on I Love Her So). I head straight up to see her after the gig and buy her album and an EP (it's tough times, it’s important to support artists). Even through the COVID facemask, you can tell she is beaming after the show. Give her a listen, I am currently blasting out It Is You from one of my purchases.
Natalie and I chat, sat precariously on the steps that form the seats in EartH's ramshackle and unfinished auditorium (hipster shabby chic). I spill beer and Natalie gives me a resigned shrug - nothing has changed in the 28 years we've know each other. Hey ho.
Teddy comes on stage with no fuss or furore, no intro-tune to announce his rock and roll entry onto the stage. It's just him on acoustic guitar and a chap called Zac Hobbs (I think) on electric. They belt straight into Delilah from 2011's Bella. Teddy is, as ever, in fine voice.
He looks very odd, mind - he is pretty intense looking when he sings anyway, but tonight he is dressed somewhere between a Scandinavian mountain tour guide and an evil goth smurf. Natalie is perturbed that his jeans are tucked into his socks - is this a new hipster image or was he just not paying attention? This happens to her 12 year old son when he is rushing out to school, trouser leg half stuffed into a sock.
That all said, I get his attire - the venue is freezing, and I don't blame him for wearing a woolly hat, which he explains is branded and from his merchandise - I nearly run out and get one.
The show covers most of his albums, though skips his self-titled debut, which I still love. I bought it on a whim in a dodgy CD shop in Little Newport Court near Leicester Square back in 2000 and have loved him since then. He's a cross between English folk, Nashville country, Crowded House and a male Thea Gilmore. Not a bad mix.
The set swings between country covers like You Finally Said Something Good (When You Said Goodbye) from Up Front & Down Low and pure folk pop, like the magnificent "hit that got away" In My Arms. It's as catchy a song as anyone has ever written, yet sadly eluded the charts the way Sue Gray seems to elude publishing.
He plays several songs from my favourite of his albums, Separate Ways, plus a few crackers from 2021's Heartbreaker Please.
The title track, Brand New and Record Player (which closes the encore) are fabulous - it's great he is still making superb records and still producing wonderful new artists (he produced Roseanne Reid's new album). It's a shame the sales have not followed the talent, but there's no justice.
If you get a chance, do go see him live - despite the really intense face when he is singing and the alarming stage attire, he is engaging and funny in between songs, self deprecating and self aware. His nods to his heritage are only to jokingly acknowledge he can't play three guitar parts at once, unlike his father, England's greatest living guitarist, Richard. And that his mum called him out about song which was clearly about her - very funny. And the songs are just brilliant - his voice a weird mix of Neil Finn, Thom Yorke and Roy Orbison
Finally, a quick shout out to his sideman, Zac, who plays stunning lead guitar throughout the show. With a sideman like that, Teddy had no need of a band or any of the frills and thrills of a full band set up - the two of them sounded huge on the empty stage.
Natalie and I depart, her to her car, me to an Uber with very confusing doorhandles that I can't open until the driver shows me how - technology continues to baffle me. I whiz home across East London, frantically working out the setlist whilst I can still make head or tail of the notes I have made.
I doze off in the car, with visions of Saturday morning in Natalie's house as she checks to ensure her son hasn't tucked his jeans into his socks inadvertently...perhaps Linda Thompson will do the same for Teddy while he is back in town?