A regular visitor to these shores over the years, it was a great thrill to welcome back Richard Thompson and his electric band, two superb players in Davey Faragher on bass and Michael Jerome on drums. He graced the stage at Vicar Street with all his usual stiff upper lip British charm, interwoven with a fiendish wit and glint in the eye. His dry sense of humour and self-effacing comments are always a joy to his followers and he does not disappoint with the between-song banter. The mood is very relaxed from the start and Richard’s daughter Kami and husband, James Walbourne, of support band the Rails, join him for the opening number which gets the enthusiastic audience right in the mood.
What follows is 90 minutes of jaw dropping performance and to witness a musician at the very pinnacle of his craft is a real treat. This band is so tight that it would be impossible to separate any of the individual parts from the whole and yet it is always the wonderful guitar work of Richard that soars above the rhythm and swoops in and out of the song arrangements. We are given a number of tracks from the latest release, Still, which is a very strong collection and selling as well as any of the extensive back catalogue. Broken Doll, Beatnik Walking, Patty Don’t You Put Me Down, Josephine, are all played. A very short acoustic set breaks from the full-on electric attack of the band with 1952 Vincent Black Lightning always a highlight. The dextrous guitar taking us on a road trip that has become immortal. We also got Wall of Death, Did She Jump or Was She Pushed, Tear Stained Letter, Johnny’s Far Away from previous releases.
Guitar Heroes is a standout new song on this night of dynamic performances with its nod to the great guitar players of yesteryear and Richard effortlessly mirrors the playing technique of Django Reinhardt, James Burton, Les Paul, Chuck Berry and Hank Marvin among others. Al Bowlly’s in Heaven is another song that strikes home especially in these times of homelessness and lack of care for our fellow man across many World issues.
Everybody has a favourite pick of songs that didn’t get an airing but the numbers that were played acted as classy alternatives to any private wish list. One of those special evenings and certainly Richard Thompson is playing and singing as well as he ever has. Who said your sixties are the new forties? Whatever you are doing Richard to sound so alive, the good news is that it’s working. Perhaps it is simply the pleasure of doing what you love.
Review by Paul McGee. Photograph by Vincent Lennon