Teddy Thompson and Etienne de Rocher. At the Lobero Theatre, Saturday, September 9.
Reviewed by Felicia M. Tomasko
When Teddy Thompson made his third appearance at Sings Like Hell to conclude its 19th season Saturday night, the audience members were on the edge of their seats — and Thompson and his band delivered. This was Thompson’s first time holding the stage as a headliner, and he took to it as part of a year of touring in support of his acclaimed album Separate Ways. The scion of a legendary family — Teddy’s parents are folk-rock legends Linda and Richard Thompson — Thompson has opened for both Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams this year.
Thompson shone from the start, playing “Shine So Bright” off the new album. His melodic voice and lyrical guitar-playing were tinted with a bit of edge, keeping the audience wanting more throughout the night. A brief comic interlude ensued when he broke not one but two strings on his guitar. “We don’t usually do this,” he insisted. The crowd exhorted bassist Brad Albetta to “get funky,” but it was drummer Greg Wieczorek who happily obliged, stirring up the band while we waited for Thompson to recover. And recover he did, for a selection of songs from his new album, including the moving “Altered States,” the danceable “Everybody Move It,” and the title track. “If you’re going to go out for a smoke,” Thompson said, “don’t do it during this one; it’s the rub and the nub.”
Etienne de Rocher opened for Thompson, accompanied by drummer Todd Roper. De Rocher’s vocal range was impressive, his voice crystalline. His songs were impressively diverse, though the rock tunes tugged a bit more at the ear. Aptly, before breaking into “Providence,” he stopped, gazing out into the Lobero. “Playing in clubs, you forget there are places like this. It sounds like a miniature Carnegie Hall,” de Rocher said. Fortunately for us, it does.