Wednesday, October 15, 2014


This article originally appeared in the 10.16.14 issue of Metroland.



OCTOBER 11, 2014

            Part of my deal here at Metroland is a requirement that I check in with Richard Thompson every couple of years to see how he’s doing.  I’m pleased to report that Richard Thompson continues to be doing very well.

            He’s touring in support of his new album Acoustic Classics, basically a greatest hits package performed solo.  Which isn’t nearly as cheesy as it sounds; Thompson’s acoustic reinventions of his material, originally recorded with more-or-less standard rock-band formats, and developed over years of solo touring, are themselves wonderful things to behold.

            Thompson’s acoustic guitar technique is staggering, playing bass and rhythm lines with a pick while his middle, ring, and pinky fingers play melodic and solo lines.  I swear he was playing 3 against 2 at times, fingers against fingers.  Which is just stupid.  Anyway, it’s hard to fathom that one guy with a guitar can make such an ornate, dynamic, beautiful racket.

            Add to this his remarkable catalog of songs, his consummately soulful singing, and his often hysterical between-song banter, and you’ve got some kind of show.  Exhausting, actually, as the sparks come flying so fast and from so many directions that the listener gets worn out just trying to process it all.

            Despite claiming to be getting over a cold, Thompson was in fine voice and spirits, and played a whole bunch of flag-wavers from his 45+ year career.  Everyone should witness him doing “52 Vincent Black Lightning” at least once in their life.  He also played a modern sea shanty about Scottish bands playing on cruise ships which incorporated a couplet rhyming ‘Bahamas” with “pajamas.”  He sang a ribald protest song against a current London land developer that was screamingly funny.  He played selections from his upcoming contribution to the 14-18 Now Project, a multi-disciplinary art remembrance of WWI.  Thompson’s piece involved putting bits of soldiers’ letters to music.  This was ethereal, beguiling, haunting.

            The opening act was the Texas husband-wife duo The Mastersons who sang big fearless songs with big fearless voices and were charming and talented and weird enough to grab and win over the crowd.  I’d go see them again tomorrow.


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