This article originally appeared in the 10.16.14 issue of Metroland
Part of my
deal here at Metroland
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.
touring in support of his new album Acoustic
, 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.
acoustic guitar technique is staggering, playing bass and rhythm lines with a
pick while his middle, ring, and pinky fingers play melodic and solo
I swear he was playing 3 against
2 at times, fingers against fingers.
Which is just stupid.
hard to fathom that one guy with a guitar can make such an ornate, dynamic,
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.
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
Thompson’s piece involved putting
bits of soldiers’ letters to music.
was ethereal, beguiling, haunting.
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.