Luke Thompson China Tour 2019 - Shanghai
3F, 19 Wanhangdu Back Road Putuo Shanghai
Sunday, December 8 @ 20:00
Did the 21st century put the troubadour to death? Did the march of progress put a spear to the folk singer?
These were the questions that besieged Luke Thompson as he stepped off the plane in 2015. After the grind of a recent European tour and jetlag’s cobwebs settled into the wind, the New Zealand songwriter began to wonder if a season was coming to an end.
It wasn’t so much that he felt like giving up, rather, the self-managed artist was road-weary. Although his recent EP ‘Strum Strum’ was well received, the internally frenetic pace of Thompson’s life as an artist was taking its toll.
“I felt like a having a solid break from the constant shows and planning and writing and recording and being a musician in general”, the now-veteran songwriter explains, “I had no idea why but it felt right and I didn’t fight it. I just wanted to stay at home for a decent length of time and tell my kids that I wasn’t going away for a while.”
And so, Thompson quietly domesticated, closed his guitar case and returned to normal life. He found a job at a local café and clocked out in a 9-5 blanket, suddenly available for everyday life; the hum of making up lost time with longtime friendships and becoming an expert children’s book narrator.
Of course, the muse is never so easily shuffled to the corners of a storage bay, returning almost a year later, surreptitiously cloaked as a favour for a friend.
An old, broken hollow-bodied electric guitar had haunted Thompson’s home for years, given to him by a friend and in desperate need of repair. One night, with nothing better to do, he picked it up and began to repair it.
“I found myself fixing up this guitar almost instinctively,” says Thompson, “if only because I had space in my brain to get around to it. Then I started to play it, almost as a therapeutic exercise.” Thompson, usually a native of acoustic instruments, found inspiration in the nuances of the hollow-body.
“All my family knew was that I was downstairs a lot and working at night, most of the songs were recorded while everyone else was asleep and initially that’s why some of the vocals are so quiet. Turns out I really loved that sound so I started singing everything quietly.”
‘Hosts’ emerges as a gentle work; Thompson’s quiet re-entry into a folk adventure; songs that are stripped bare and self-sufficient, the sound of a songwriter with only himself for company, free of a certain baggage, and in limbo between old and new. In many ways it’s the songwriter at his most honest and unguarded; in every way, it’s the sound of a hopeless romantic, marching into the unknown country at the pace of his own drum.