LIVE: Richard Thompson @ The Egg, 9/28/13

Review by Greg Haymes

There’s been a non-stop parade of truly great guitarslingers through Nippertown in the past week. David Bromberg at the Bearsville Theater. Eddie Angel & Los Straitjackets at the Ale House. Steve Hackett at The Egg. Joe Satriani and Steve Morse at the Palace Theatre…

But for my money, none of them approach the exquisite six-string magnificence of Richard Thompson. Seated in the front row at The Egg last Saturday night, it was like watching a close-up magic master conjure impossible feats right in front of your eyes. It must be some kind of trick, right?

But, no. There was nothing up Thompson’s sleeves as he reeled and riffed through one mind-boggling solo after another. How does he do it?

Whether it was a flat-out rocker like “Valerie,” the rousing sing-along “Johnny’s Far Away” or the rip-roaring classic “Wall of Death,” Thompson’s guitar work was simply begoggling. And it was no less breath-taking on ballads like “The Snow Goose,” the lovely but bitter “My Enemy” and the heartbreaking “Down Where the Drunkards Roll.”

He unleashed his most devastating fretwork of the night during the vicious, chugging “Crawl Back,” his fingers dancing spider-like up and down the neck, as he dropped in quotes that ranged from Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4” to Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” Simply spellbinding…

And as if his guitar brilliance isn’t enough talent for one man to possess, Thompson is also one of the most exquisite songwriters on the planet. His dizzying classic “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” a desperate love story on two wheels, belongs in the pantheon of truly great songs. And the wistfully beautiful “Beeswing,” which closed his show, proved that Thompson can be as delicate and poetic as he is dark and despairing.

Saturday was a father-and-son evening. “How about that Teddy Thompson?,” Richard Thompson asked the crowd following his son’s solid solo opening act performance. “I could be prejudiced, But I think the boy’s alright.” Indeed. Leaning more toward the country end of the musical spectrum, Teddy served up nine songs in his 35-minute set, all proving that talent isn’t necessarily diluted in the second generation. There was a decidedly self-deprecating thread running through many of songs from “The Things I Do” to “Don’t Know What I Was Thinking” to “Can’t Sing Straight,” but he even managed to charm his way charm forgetting the lyrics in back-to-back songs early on.

And at the end of the night, the Thompsons teamed up for a brace of encores, trading verses on Thompson the Elder’s “Persuassion,” rocking through the Everly Brothers’ gem “The Price of Love” and wrapping up the night with a hushed, near-a cappella rendition of the traditional-sounding “Grey Funnel Line.”

Sara Foss’ review at Foss Forward
Excerpt from Michael Hochanandel’s review at The Daily Gazette: “‘That was nothing!’ said Richard Thompson after he’d stunned an Egg-ful of fans on Saturday with ‘Valerie,’ an insistently rocking, pungent put-down but with a deliciously pretty guitar tone. Later, after a slow, quietly dazzling solo in the wistful ‘Down Where the Drunkards Roll,’ he assured, ‘It’s all easy stuff.’ At least, he made it look easy, as he served up much more in the pained-swain vein of ‘Valerie’ — boldly bitter beat-up love songs so acidic that when he turned tender late in the show for ‘Beeswing’ it felt like an oasis in the Sahara. Not that there’s anything wrong with the arid despair and disappointment of Thompson’s portrayal of love as a battlefield and burial ground. But when things turned sweet, the contrast was astounding.”

One Door Opens
Saving the Good Stuff for You
The Snow Goose
Johnny’s Far Away
1952 Vincent Black Lightning
Sunset Song
Good Things Happen to Bad People
Genesis Hall (Fairport Convention)
Hamlet (Frank Loesser)
My Enemy
Crawl Back (Under My Stone)
Hope You Like the New Me
Wall of Death
Down Where the Drunkards Roll
ENCORES (with Teddy Thompson)
The Price of Love (the Everly Brothers)
Grey Funnel Line (Cyril Tawney)

Shine So Bright
Looking for a Girl
The Things I Do
Don’t Know What I Was Thinking
Can’t Sing Straight
That’s Enough Out of You
In My Arms

1 Comment
  1. Richard Brody says

    It was another great performance by RT – stunning guitar work as always, and such a large catalog of “I hope he plays this one” songs, you always leave his shows with a wow and a big smile. Kudos to Teddy as well and for his song dedicated to mother, Linda, “Home”.

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