Teddy Thompson

Review: HOLLY STEVENSON reviews Teddy Thompson: ‘Teddy is like Michael Buble with a dark side’.

folk folk rock review teddy thompson The Junction

The Junction, Tuesday 15th February, 7pm, £13

[Rating: 4/5]

Teddy Thompson is fantastic folk singer, song writer, and live performer. He comes from a family of folk musicians- to say music is in his blood is an understatement; he takes to music as naturally as most people take to breathing.

A grown-up tone for the evening was set straight away by the extraordinary David Ford, who was supporting. Less of a singer-songwriter, more of a one-man band, the 33 year old sang with a voice that sounded like he had a throat full of rusty nails with songs that recalled the violence in Egypt and the sorrow of Guantanamo Bay.

On stage Teddy Thompson is unprepossessing – the sort of guy who may have once been attractive 10 years ago – and has an unfortunate habit of gurning whilst singing, in a way that unfortunately puts one in the mind of badly acted porn. Far more striking was his amazing technical ability – he swapped between five different guitars as nonchalantly as if he were changing his socks – and his smooth, caramel-like voice, reminds of the sublime talents of his parents, Richard and Linda Thompson.

Teddy Thompson – Live on Later with Jools Holland

The set alternated between electric and acoustic, with songs such as Looking For a Girl and Turning The Gun on Myself (not the most subtle song ever written about suicide) casting Teddy as Michael Buble with a dark side. Though he’s not as slick – a couple of times he forgot the words, or stumbled, and once he got the giggles –  rather than seeming unprofessional, it just heightened the sense that we were witnessing a rather good pub band.

The highlight was a duet between Teddy and the violinist Jenni Muldaur, Tell Me What You Want, which sounded so much richer and more three-dimensional than the album track. The casual banter between him and his bandmates was heartening, and his between-song chat was genuinely amusing: “We’re performing in a ‘mall’ – and we’ve decided to embrace that fact. So we’re staying at the Travelodge, we had dinner at Nando’s and tomorrow we’re going bowling”’ There was atmosphere of easy familiarity that just put a big smile on your face. By the encore, which included a fabulous cover of Abba’s Super Trouper, everyone was clapping along as if they were in a hippy cult.

Teddy Thompson’s performance reminded me that there are big scary things out there – that love goes deeper than ‘boy meets girl’, that sadness is more profound than student loan woes – but also that music that should be natural and when it’s more tightly worked than a clockwork toy it can leave you feeling a little hollow. Teddy Thompson provided the perfect antidote.