Richard Thompson, The Dome (Brighton, UK 2/22/13)
Richard Thompson, one of British folk’s national treasures, has recently released an album titled ELECTRIC which has been so well received that many are saying that it is his best one for years! Taking it out on the road, accompanied by Michael Jerome on drums and Taras Prodaniuk on bass, the trio are whipping up a storm and I was privileged to witness them take the stage at Brighton’s Dome and play their hearts out for nigh on two hours.
What can I say about Thompson that hasn’t already been said many times over? He’s regarded as one of the most accomplished guitarists ever; he writes songs that are dark, wry, nostalgic, self-deprecating and timeless; he’s witty and enjoys bantering with his audience; he wears his trademark beret with aplomb; all in all so distinctive that there’s no mistaking from the first note, from the first word, that it is Thompson you are listening to. And listen we did!
From Stuck on the Treadmill right through to Tear Stained Letter the trio took us on a journey that spanned four decades worth of material – with a back catalogue of some forty albums, I wonder how the set-list is chosen? Naturally, the focus was on ELECTRIC but Thompson pointed out early on that ‘we’ll get to the classics later’ and true to his word, they did.
Throughout, the playing was tight, energetic and their enthusiasm was infectious. Can’t Win (from the 80’s) featured an extended instrumental that was almost exhausting to watch never mind play! The atmosphere changed immediately when they followed up with the quietly reflective My Enemy. Thompson then switched to an acoustic guitar for a couple of older songs Easy There, Steady Now and Al Bowlly’s in Heaven – keeping his promise about the ‘classics’. Back to electric for Good Things Happen to Bad People (cutting lyrics set to a jaunty melody – a Thompson trait).
‘No evening of music would be complete without a murder ballad’ so Sidney Wells made an appearance and even if Thompson momentarily forgot the words mid-song, Wells still got his just desserts!
About half way through the evening, someone shouted a request for Beeswing saying that he hadn’t heard it for years; Thompson’s quick retort ‘haven’t you thought of buying a record’ had the audience in stitches of laughter but he was just joking and said that he’d put the song away in his memory for later. In fact, he returned solo for the encore and played Beeswing to much appreciation. Jerome and Prodaniuk then joined him for Stony Ground following which Thompson asked ‘are we allowed one more?’ I think you’ll know the answer to that – Little Sally Racket. A second standing ovation brought the trio back for two more songs – 2013’s Saving the Good Stuff for You and the 30-year-old Tear Stained Letter.
Magnificent! Jela Webb