Teddy Thompson - 17/9/06

Son of famous folk rock icons, Richard & Linda Thompson, Teddy Thompson demonstrated his own remarkable talents to great effect on Friday night at the Northcote Social Club.
Teddy, though born in Britain, has been living in America for the past decade and has released two complete albums and an EP. His latest CD, Separate Ways, is a wonderfully quirky, beautifully produced recording with catchy pop rock tunes embellished by Thompson's powerful and affecting voice.

This is Teddy Thompson's first tour of Australia and he is doing it solo with just an acoustic guitar as accompaniment. Judging by the taste we were given on Friday night, he really doesn't need anything else to make an impression. And, impress us he certainly did.

The support act was Laura Jean, a young local singer/songwriter who gave the laid back audience a sample of her music. Her best-known and most quirky song is "I'm a rabbit, I'm a fox" which you can download on her web site. Laura Jean sang for about 45 minutes. Her style was unusual and took a bit of getting used to but she sort of grew on one as her set progressed. Other songs included Our Swan Song, It's Supposed to be Summer and Solace.

After a short break Teddy Thompson took the stage. Surprisingly those of us sitting on the floor were not forced to stand up, so we were able to view the show in relative comfort and those at the back could see the stage.

Teddy began his set with the opening track on his Separate Ways CD, "Shine So Bright", and then followed that with "I Should Get Up" also from the aforementioned CD.

During the title track "Separate Ways", one of the strings on his guitar broke, but he soldiered on to the end of the song before whipping out a new string and restringing it in a trice. It seemed to relax him as he engaged in light-hearted chat with the audience, remarking that his impression of Melbourne was that it was an "arty farty" place which he professed to like.

Guitar restrung he resumed with a song about New York and then a song from his EP Blunderbuss, "Turning the Gun on Myself". During his performance of "Altered State" another string broke causing him to break off mid song and make repairs again. Someone asked why he didn't have a spare guitar and he responded by saying that he used to carry one around, but found it a drag when he mostly didn't need it. Altered State was resumed after the briefest of interludes.

Obviously feeling more relaxed with the audience after this hiatus in proceedings he proposed that the next song would be a pirate ballad. This was "Sally Brown" one of two he performs on the "Rogues Gallery - Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys" CD. Pirate ballads are meant to be sung with one's shipmates, Teddy said, so this song proved to be a collaborative effort, with the audience singing along with the chorus. Great fun!

As the show continued we were enthralled by Teddy Thompson's talent as both a singer and guitarist, a chip off the old block, so to speak. By the end of the night he had the audience under a spell, when after performing 14 songs in his set, enthusiastic applause drew him back for an encore.

Although in general he is not known for singing country music, he has admitted being influenced by any number of country artists and proved to be no mean slouch in singing two old country standards, George Jones "She Thinks I Still Care" and "All My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers" by Merle Haggard. Before singing the latter, during the encore, Teddy remarked that his next record would be country music. Whether he meant this seriously, it was hard to tell. He may have been kidding us all and I overheard someone in the audience expressing disbelief that a British artist was capable of singing country music. Be that as it may, I think his voice is quite perfect for country music and his rendition of the two country numbers was spot on. He has a very expressive voice with an attractive timbre, which is very moving to hear.

The final song was the appropriate, somewhat deprecatory, farewell "Sorry To See Me Go" which indeed was the case.

At the end of the night, I was left with the impression that Teddy Thompson is a rising star and I considered myself very fortunate to have seen him in such intimate surrounds as the Basement Discs, earlier in the day and later at the equally intimate Northcote Social Club.

Teddy Thompson objects to having his photo taken, I assume because of the distraction of flash bulbs, I did however, being ignorant of this state of affairs, manage to get some great photos at the Basement Discs show, but my photos at NSC turned out too dark and murky to use. The photos used above, therefore, are from the Basement Discs lunchtime show.

Teddy Thompson will be back in Melbourne at the Northcote Social Club on 28 November. I highly recommend seeing his show; I'm awfully tempted to go again myself.

Set List

1. Shine so Bright
2. I Should Get up
3. ?
4. Think Again
5. Separate Ways
6. ? (Song about New York)
7. Turning The Gun On Myself
8. Altered State
9. Sally Brown (traditional sea shanty)
10. She Thinks I Still Care (George Jones cover)
11. Everybody Move It
12. No Way To Be
13. That's Enough Out Of You
14. I Wish It Was Over

1. All My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers (Merle Haggard cover)
2. Wake Up
3. Sorry To See Me Go

Review & photos by Anne Sydenham

top / back to articles