Monthly Archives: September 2015

Richard Thompson at Royal Festival Hall 20/9/15

With countrified acoustic folk from his daughter, Kami, and son-in-law, James Walborne, forming the excellent support act The Rails (“nepotism gets you everywhere” quips Richard Thompson as the two take the stage once more to accompany Thompson for his first song), That’s Enough, a track from the Thompson clan’s recent “family album” kicks off tonight’s Richard Thompson performance. It shows that even several decades into his career, he is still writing really memorable songs. However, the acoustically driven start soon gives way to a full throttle electric performance. Thompson is joined by drummer, Michael Jerome, and Davey Faragher on bass, both excellent and hugely energetic musicians.

Much as I enjoyed his solo acoustic tour last year, Thompson is one of those guitarists who is equally brilliant and equally entertaining whether he’s playing acoustic or electric. The power trio format works well for Thompson’s material (they even do a brilliant version of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Hey Joe as an encore to prove just how much of a power trio they really are) and we get a nice mix of songs, old and new. The great thing about Thompson is that, in spite of his technical brilliance on the guitar, it’s never just about virtuoso wizardry. His undoubted skill as a songwriter means he’s always able to deliver memorable tunes and meaningful lyrics as well as incredible guitar playing.

The band leave the stage at one point, leaving Thompson on his own to do a lovely Meet on the Ledge. A song that Thompson wrote when he was just 17, I’ve seen it performed many times by Fairport Convention as their traditional set-closer. But it’s a nice change seeing it performed as an understated heartfelt ballad rather than the anthemic communal sing-along that it’s normally associated with these days. After a similar acoustic performance of 1952 Vincent Black Lightning it’s back to more from the electric trio: old classics like Wall of Death and new material like Guitar Heroes.

It says a lot for Thompson’s versatility as a performer that regardless of whether it’s a folky laid-back acoustic set or a rocking all-out electric set, I’ve never come away from a Richard Thompson gig feeling anything less than fully satisfied.

Setlist:
That’s Enough (with The Rails)
All Buttoned Up
Sally B
Broken Doll
For Shame of Doing Wrong
Hard on Me
Meet on the Ledge
1952 Vincent Black Lightning
Beatnik Walking
Al Bowlly’s in Heaven
Guitar Heroes
Did She Jump or Was She Pushed?
I’ll Never Give It Up
Wall of Death
If Love Whispers Your Name
Hey Joe
Tear Stained Letter
She Never Could Resist a Winding Road
Fork in the Road
Take a Heart

http://www.richardthompson-music.com/

2015-09-22 18.41.16

Previous review: Richard Thompson at Folk by the Oak

Jerry Lee Lewis at The London Palladium 6/9/15

When his first British tour, and seemingly his entire career, ended in scandal and chaos over revelations about his 13- year-old bride back in 1958, few would have predicted that not only would Jerry Lee Lewis be one of the last 50s American rock n roll stars alive and still performing, but that he’d be marking his 80th birthday with a sell-out performance at the London Palladium. But, against the odds, it is Jerry Lee Lewis that can claim to be last man standing.

Following a cheesy introduction from former radio DJ, Mike Read, and a warm standing ovation from the Palladium audience, Lewis slowly makes his way to the centre-stage grand piano looking every one of his 80 years. But as soon as he starts to play that piano his fingers are as nimble and his playing as electrifying as when he made his US TV debut almost sixty years ago, a clip of which we are shown in a short film before Lewis comes on.

He’s not going to jump up and down and play the piano with his feet tonight, but he still plays as if his life depends it on it. As well as rock n rollers like Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Sixteen and, of course, Whole Lotta Skakin’ Goin’ on and Great Balls of Fire, we get some of the beautifully expressive slower numbers from his country phase, like She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye and Over the Rainbow.

One of the temptations for big name performers of advancing years is to fill the stage with so many extra musicians and backing vocalists that the stage can end up looking as crowded as the auditorium. Lewis avoids this with the same simple the lead guitar/rhythm guitar/bass/drums set-up backing him that he’s had for most of his career. And it’s testimony to his presence as a vocalist/ pianist and of the superb musicianship of his backing band that this is precisely all that’s needed.

It’s a triumph of a performance. And while it was never going to be possible to see most of his contemporaries, I can at least say I got to see Jerry Lee Lewis live in London. One of the last of the original rock’n’roll greats.

Setlist:
Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee
Down the Line
She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye
Before the Night Is Over
No Headstone on My Grave
See See Rider
Sweet Little Sixteen
You Win Again
Why You Been Gone So Long
Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On
Over the Rainbow
Mexicali Rose
Great Balls of Fire

http://jerryleelewis.com/

2015-09-06 18.37.11