Having come through the everyone-wants-to-sign-her phase, and then the I-can’t-believe-she’s-not-more-successful phase, the prolific but fiercely independent Thea Gilmore has sealed her I’m-doing-it-my-way credentials by entering what she describes as her awkward 1970s Neil Young phase, in which she refuses to play anything from her latest album.
Thea Gilmore ***
St Luke’s, Glasgow
She’s not completely bloody-minded about it – her attentive audience were thankfully treated to the spellbinding ballad Slow Fade to Black from The Counterweight. More of this absorbing quality could have lifted the early part of the set, in which the highlight of some steady, uneventful numbers was the lift supplied when her husband and accompanist, Nigel Stonier, came in on harmony backing vocals.
Still, Gilmore quietly commanded attention with her reflections on art, depression and the political nature of pop, asking pointedly “if you’re not trying to change the world, are you not just in the way?”
Her politically persuasive folk pop ballads, such as Red White and Black, a reflection on electioneering in the States, were generalised mellifluous appeals with a gentle relevance beyond their original inspiration, but she did allow the anger to simmer through the more strident New Tin Drum and the lampooning God’s Got Nothing On You.
There were eager requests from the floor for her encore selections but Gilmore continued with the evergreen portents of doom – via a soulful, stripped back cover of Bad Moon Rising – and hope in the form of The Wall, her tribute to Jo Cox and the other bridge builders of the world.