Winchester Science Centre
Firstly, due to a ‘traffic situation’ on the M3, Thea was late. Secondly, the venue was a little unusual; the planetarium in Winchester Science Centre, but fortuitous as it turned out, as everyone was in reclining seats and treated to a film about the birth of the universe filmed in 360 degrees and projected onto the domed ceiling.
When the show started, Thea’s other half Nigel Stonier was the support act, and played half a dozen songs from his recent Love And Work album, either on piano or acoustic guitar. After a short interval the main event finally got under
way. Perhaps a little surprisingly there were few songs from Thea’s New album, but plenty of crowd pleasers from across her career, all of them played acoustically. Thea was in exceptionally fine voice, and there was some good banter and interesting introductions to her songs. She ‘shamelessly plugged’ an EP available after the event, which included two fabulous new songs, Willow and The New Tin Drum, plus a rather good cover of Eyes On The Prize. Towards the end Thea’s 10 year old son Egan joined his Mum and Dad onstage and accompanied them on violin. There was an encore which Thea described amusingly as an ‘obligatory charade’ as she had to leave the stage by running up the stairs through the audience only to run down them again. There was a merchandise stand outside which Thea and Nigel manned themselves and seemed happy to chat with anyone who wanted to. I bought the new EP and Nigel’s new album on CD, and mumbled a few words to them both about how fantastic the show had been, which indeed it was. “Aw, thanks ever so much for that”, she said.
For someone still in her mid 30s with over a dozen albums to her name, Thea’s demographic is decidedly on the older side. Tonight’s audience was almost exclusively white, middle class 50-somethings. “You get a better class in Winchester” was the irritating heckle from someone in the audience who had already told Thea and everyone else that he was a university lecturer. The crowd singalongs were polite and restrained, not like the football chants Thea told us she gets in Manchester. The venue was small, probably 300 or so, but it was sold out, and the audience clearly included some hardcore Thea acolytes, multi-venue middle aged groupies.
It made me think..
How can two people with so much talent be so largely unsung and unheard of? Thea Gilmore is probably the best songwriter this country possesses, but has never managed to break into the mainstream. It’s probably a blessing in disguise. She is personable, accessible and distinctly devoid of starriness. This was the third time I have seen her live, and each time has been an absolute treat. On a previous occasion she clambered down off the stage and asked the small audience to gather round her while she played some extra songs, a couple of which were a capella, serving only to showcase what a fantastic soothing voice she has.
Overall, an absolutely fab night out. The girl can do no wrong.