Review: Christine Tobin @ Lichfield Garrick

In the first of a new series of live jazz gigs at the Lichfield Garrick, the Irish singer Christine Tobin held the intimate space of the Studio spellbound as she delivered a set that was largely taken from the back catalogue of Leonard Cohen – but which also managed to find some space for a couple of jazz standards.

Christine Tobin

Christine Tobin

With a minimalist band of guitarist Phil Robson and double bassist Dave whitford, the quality of both Christine Tobin’s voice, and the strength of Cohen’s songs could be heard in a new light.

Although sticking to some of the Canadian musician’s best known work, there was also space for some of his lesser known gems, while the concert was started by a fine reading of Joni Mitchell’s The Priest, with the two musicians navigating the complicated arrangement with panache. The slower Dance Me To The End Of Love took on a slower, more brooding atmosphere than many performers give this song.

The main strengths of Leonard Cohen’s songs are in the story-telling and the naarative, and although his voice is distinctive, Tobin’s more colourful and higher voice also added a new dimension to songs, so Old Blue Raincoat and That’s No Way To Say Goodbye were delivered with more vigour than perhaps could have been the case.

The inventive soling of both Phil Robson and Dave Whitford added more colour, particularly in the improvised bass vamp that introduced a slightly poppier version of Tower of Song, although the most startling re-invention was saved for the concert close, Susanne, which was delivered with an almost reggae like, sun dappled feel.