REVIEW: Christine Tobin at Lauderdale House (first night of a UK tour)

Christine Tobin
Photo credit: © 2014 Christine Tobin

Christine Tobin

(Lauderdale House, London, 26 October 2017. Review by Gigi Williams)

The  recently refurbished Lauderdale House has become the host of a Thursday night jazz series with an impressive line-up of musicians, including Irish vocalist Christine Tobin with her partner Phil Robson on guitar and Dave Whitford on bass on the first night of her UK tour.

This tour represents retrospective work from her 11 albums. The trio presented an eclectic mix of standards, originals and Leonard Cohen songs linked together by Tobin’s mastery of the English language.

For me, a standout moment in the evening for several reasons was her performance of the standard Detour Ahead. Tobin paid homage to Billie Holiday’s recording, which she says she always thinks of when hearing the song. However, the performance was far from a torch-song tribute. Tobin and co. presented the ballad in an original way without resorting to gimmicky metric modulations to make it their own. A still serene atmosphere was conjured from her shaping of the words. It was quietly powerful.

This delicacy contrasted with some of the pure soul that resonated from some of the other songs, including Tower of Song by Leonard Cohen, especially when Tobin reached those low chesty notes which seemed to reverberate throughout the whole room. As Tobin herself said, the music was “a three-way conversation” between herself  Robson, and Whitford. It was clear that for these three playing together was a joy, and a few spontaneous solos made the performance feel cohesive and natural.

It is no wonder that Tobin’s affinity for poetry - particularly Yeats and more recently the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon - makes her extremely suited to singing folk songs, which also shows in her modal and primordial solos.

In her original composition Ritual her solo featured her voice not as an imitation of an instrument, as so many singers do these days, but as a tool in its own right, exploring the colours and timbres she could get on one held note rather than shredding changes, which she left to Robson.

Christine will also begin her tour of her most recent album 'Pelt' on the 25th of January 2018

LINK: Christine Tobin's UK tour dates

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