Ruth Theodore


Supporting act Cupids Arrow deliver quite an eclectic mix for a cello duo. From the upbeat heights of the Tetris theme tune to haunting ravines of Hungarian folk. They are strong and interesting to watch. The set finishes with a great cover of Elbow’s ‘Grounds For Divorce’, one they say they cannot include in their usual wedding shows, and they smile with a chance to play it.

Ruth Theodore is in Manchester for only the third time in her musical career, and the Castle Hotel is packed out for the appearance. Ruth’s live performance isn’t one to be missed when she comes around! The usual separation between crowd and stage is gradually shrunk to make way for more and more people entering throughout the first few songs.

Ruth has an anti-folk base, with a country bounce. Her music is centred around storytelling, weaved with an Americana style drawn from her time recording her latest album, Cactacus, in West Coast USA. The opening song tonight highlights this development, with the frenetic blues slide riffs of ‘Buffalo.’ She has great skill in wielding her guitar, through fingerpicked melodies, slides and choppy chords, but her voice stands out to me. Her narrative verses are like that of This Is The Kit, but she can quickly sweep to the theatrics of Kate Bush. Even in louder, more powerful bursts during choruses, her voice still manages to be warm and soft. The range in ‘You Can’t Help Who You Love’ shows this off perfectly.

If there is one thing that Ruth has brought with her to the Castle Hotel tonight more than anything, it is personality. She has bags of it. Quirky stories, like a love between two planets in ‘Eris’ are both wondrous in lyrical imagery and delightful in their delivery. Her imagination shines through her words, bringing a smile to your face, while tempo and musical style changes mid-track make you move your feet. Her writing is truly original and many of her songs have unconventional themes such as the creation of man from a birds eye view in ‘Man of The Land.’ They are fun to hear and see play out. She is as good a storyteller as she is a writer. However, not all tracks are as off the wall. The upbeat ‘Kissing in Traffic’ is much more typical, but still has a fresh feel and gains a great reception tonight.

Ruth revels in playing, and the show has been an absolute joy to see. With the announcement of coming back to play the Eagle Inn in May, I hope her Manchester shows will become less of a rarity.

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