Teitur, Kings Place, London

3.00

 

As Teitur starts playing his first song, a jaunty if lovesick number called 'Catherine the Waitress', on the grand piano, a few keen beans in the front row start to whoop and cheer.

“Yeah, you can do that,” he allows, deadpan, a first glimpse of an understated, very dry Danish humour (he hails from the Faroe Islands) which will be exhibited throughout the concert.

It's hardly the sort of gig you expect fevered fans at, mind, Kings Place providing an oddly formal environment for these very intimate acoustic songs.

And Teitur Lassen – to give him his full name – isn't the most swaggering performer; in red braces and side-parted hair, thrusting hands into pockets when he doesn’t know what to do with them, he looks like an overgrown 1950s schoolboy.

He's mild-mannered, pale and interesting, but can also cast a bewitching spell over the not-quite-full room, with a voice of rare purity. While on record his folk songs may slip into the sentimental, live they seem more subtle, delicate, moving.

There are still moments of slight lyrical slush – when balladeering about home being a place of feathers and flowers and photographs (on 'Home'), or comparing love to rainbows' ends and crimson sunsets (on 'You Get Me'). Such syrupyness is further sugared with the sound of soaring violins: Teitur is frequently joined by a string quartet.

Mostly, however, they add texture and weight to his singer-songwriter solitariness. 'Stormy Weather' showcases a delicate melody and sweetness of voice, with simple repeated piano figures swelled by scudding strings. 'Josephine' – an old track, met with enthusiasm – is “about a girl I used to play with as a kid, she was mysterious, I'm wondering what happened to her.”

It's gorgeous, with a lovely lilting, tilting tune, augmented by strings warmly bowed or played with pizzicato pops. 'Freight Train' is a pretty lament for a life too well lived, sung at the top of his range, almost strained: "I never kissed the wrong girl/I never got drunk in Spain/No I never rolled a freight train".

Teitur's final number (before an encore) is 'The Singer', sung alone, unaccompanied. “I always had the voice and now I am a singer/The audience goes silent when I open up my mouth” he begins. True – but not until they've had a little cheer to show their appreciation – making his concluding line, “I sing to be loved”, a confession of need that has surely been sated.

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