Concert Review

Teddy Thompson and Sarah Jarosz Delight A Celtic Connections Audience

As part of the Celtic Connections festival 2024, Teddy Thompson and Sarah Jarosz played Glasgow’s City Halls on 20th January. 

Sarah Jarosz was up first – this the first of two shows she’s playing in the UK this month as promotion for her latest album, Polaroid Lovers – out on 26th Jan.

Accompanied by Jeff Picker on double bass and Seth Taylor on acoustic and electric guitar as required, Sarah played a 13-song set, consisting of seven songs from her upcoming record, and six from her previous releases.

Starting out with three songs from Polaroid Lovers, the audience were enjoying the new music.  With Sarah on an eight-string for the first few songs, the sound was something a little different, but there was something familiar about them.  Only on the latest single – Day Can Turn Around – was this familiarity clear – the intro is reminiscent of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon.

The combination of the instruments – especially the banjo on a few of the songs – made for an enjoyable set.  Sarah’s voice is beautiful, and her guitar and banjo skills are impressive – she has found a new fan in this reviewer.

If you like your country more on the folk side, it’s worth checking out her music.  And if you are a huge banjo fan you could do worse than listening to Annabelle Lee from her 2011 album Follow Me Down – even if you aren’t sure about the rest.

Teddy Thompson, playing second, was joined by Dan Wiebe on drums, Danny Williams on double bass, Chris Hillman on dobro, pedal steel and electric guitar, and Bryan Day on keyboard, bass and backing vocals.

Playing primarily country songs – ten of which featured on his latest album, My Love of Country – Teddy and band entertained the assembled audience.  Teddy’s voice was on point, with beautiful renditions of country classics.  His usual self-deprecating humour mixed with anecdotes – including how he ruined the Everly Brothers for his dad – punctuated the set.

In the middle of his set he gave the band a few minutes off and played two songs solo.  The first – an audience request, In My Arms – was met with a large cheer and many of the now-obvious fans joining in.  His second was one of his father’s which he duetted on – Persuasion.  It sounded great as a solo.  

Rejoined by the band, the audience was treated to a live rendition of the first song Teddy  ever professionally recorded.  If you’re a fan, it will surprise you – it was not one this reviewer has come across before.  Working on the assumption he’ll play it on his other UK dates, I’ll let him tell the story to those heading out to see him live over the next few days.

As usual, Teddy Thompson put on a great show. Even if you’re not overly enamoured by the latest album, hearing them live and seeing the tics he has whilst singing is worth the price of the ticket.  Having seen Teddy perform many times over the last 14 years, this reviewer can reliably say this gig was up to his usual standards – and if you’re a fan and miss this tour, you’ll kick yourself.

The fact that Celtic Connections put these two artists together proved to be a smart move.  There will be fans of Teddy Thompson who went in not knowing Sarah Jarosz’s music who are now fans – and I’m pretty sure the opposite is true, as well.

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