Live Review: Teitur with Zia Hassan at the Hamilton, Washington DC – 1st September 2012

By on Tuesday, 4th September 2012 at 2:00 pm

I think most of us regular gig-goers have come to accept sore feet, achy craned necks, sticky floors and having our personal space encroached too many times when we mentally prepare ourselves to head out to a show. Saturday night, some friends and I had the opportunity to try out a new place that laughed in the face of all those terms because for once, we got to sit down, and it wasn’t because we were sat in a cold and unfeeling place like the Verizon Center.

No, the Hamilton exceeded all my expectations as a place that you could be waited on and order very good food and drink, be sat at a well-appointed table, and take in an acoustic show as if you were sitting in a some swish bar in the heart of New York City. While there was a table of young people getting drunk on a couple bottles of red wine and being just a bit annoying for talking and laughing through the show, all in all, I’d say it was a positive experience to be in a place within walking distance of the White House and some historic eateries and still be treated to a performance where I was comfortable.

A last minute support slot was announced for Zia Hassan, a local singer/songwriter who was welcomed to the stage as “the only artist who has ever played the Hamilton 2 nights in a row”. After Googling him, I learned that Hassan wasn’t kidding when said he could “write a song in 15 minutes”: his Bandcamp confirms this, with four album-length and two EP length releases to his name. After admitting that he was a massive Teitur fan and he was so honoured to be opening for one of his heroes. Starting with a jazzy cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Rock With You’ before segueing into another tune, Hassan admirably warmed up the audience with his engaging blend of well-played guitar and wit, delivered via a youthful voice with brief moments of falsetto.

Hassan also turned out to be more gregarious than Teitur himself; he regaled us with tales of him writing stories for his now fiance (‘New York’s Gonna Hate Us’), equated the loss of love with giving up an important possession (‘Wrecking Ball’) and a story written around something he drew on a napkin (‘Diagrams’). He also advertises, not so subtly, the fact that he’s a fully commissionable songwriter, explaining that his song ‘A Love Like That’ was written at the behest of a mate who was getting married, and ‘Carry My Love’ was based on a friend’s inability to have children of her own, only to have her sister carry her baby.

After a very brief intermission (brief because there wasn’t any gear to move around, as both of the musicians played acoustic guitar and a Yamaha grand piano already was sat on stage), it was Teitur‘s turn. I was disappointed in the turnout; maybe because Teitur has played at Jammin’ Java in Vienna so many times, all his fans are in Northern Virginia and refused to make the trek into DC? For sure though, I don’t think the usual patrons of the Hamilton are as well-versed as we are to wait for an encore, as many people just got up and left when Teitur first said his goodbyes. However, as our friend Kelly had requested ‘Your Great Book’ and Teitur had agreed on Twitter to play it, we knew more was coming. The tour had just started days before his newest EP, ‘Four Songs’, was released, and ‘Home’, one of the songs on the EP, got a live airing with Teitur on piano (see video below). The name of another song on the EP, ‘Jailhouse Gumbo Jones’, was explained away as that game / meme you play when you come up with your blues name and it was the resulting name of one of his friends.


Perhaps it was also jetlag and first show of the tour nerves, but Teitur didn’t seem as comfortable as he had been in February either. He tried playing a cover of the Carpenters’ ‘Close to You’ in honour of songwriter Hal David’s recent passing, but some of the notes were too high and Teitur himself admitted this was the first time he’d tried playing it live and he was nervous. He played on his guitar a song he said he’d written just minutes before called ’24 Rules’, looking down at a crib sheet of notes all the while (watch the video below). However, later in the show, I felt a shift in confidence, with Teitur joking about ‘You Get Me’, a song that will appear on Seal’s new album, yet the subject matter must not have worked since Heidi Klum left him. (Ooh, snap.) ‘I Was Just Thinking’ providing the most tender moment of the night and ‘Josephine’ the most wistful of childhood moment.


Overall, I think the ambience of the Hamilton was perfect for a kind of performer like Teitur. It’s just a shame that more people weren’t aware of its existence, as I’m sure a full house would have made for a more electric experience.

After the cut: Teitur’s set list.

Teitur’s Set List:
Betty Hedges
All My Mistakes
Home (new song)
Jailhouse Gumbo Jones (new house)
Freight Train
Poetry and Airplanes
You’d Never Leave L.A.
You Get Me
Close to You (Hal David / Carpenters cover)
Catherine the Waitress
24 Rules
Louis Louis
One and Only
I Was Just Thinking
Waverly Place
We Still Drink the Same Water
The Singer
Your Great Book

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