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.
That’s Enough (with The Rails)
All Buttoned Up
For Shame of Doing Wrong
Hard on Me
Meet on the Ledge
1952 Vincent Black Lightning
Al Bowlly’s in Heaven
Did She Jump or Was She Pushed?
I’ll Never Give It Up
Wall of Death
If Love Whispers Your Name
Tear Stained Letter
She Never Could Resist a Winding Road
Fork in the Road
Take a Heart
Previous review: Richard Thompson at Folk by the Oak