Sunday, July 12, 2015

Richard Thompson, Keswick Theater, 6/18/2015, Reconciling With Richard - A Stunning Guitar Driven Show



Photo: Beverly Kates

This was my first time seeing Richard Thompson live (more on that in a moment). That I was totally blown away by his performance should have come as no surprise. I was working at my college radio station back in 1975 when I first heard Richard and Linda Thompson on their second album, Hokey Pokey.

After college I moved on to Starview FM, a commercial rock station in central PA. Later that year the Thompson's released Pour Down Like Silver, with cutting edge song composition and even more cutting edge guitar work by Richard. It was clearly music unlike anything else to be heard in 1975. I played it on air often, and even more at home.

Richard and Linda continued to release albums into the early 1980's. Their marriage broke up and their professional association ended soon after. Back then there was no social media, no internet. All we had to go on for music news was that which you might find in newspapers, magazines (Rolling Stone), and the album covers, lyrics, etc. The Thompson's divorce seemed to be a bitter one. This was compounded (in my view) by some rather insensitive songs released by Richard ("Tear Stained Letter", "I Feel So Good"). Thereafter, I continued to follow Linda's career and basically ignored Richard's. Many years later, I was pleased to hear the music of their son, Teddy Thompson. At that point I realized that it had been such a long time since the divorce, that maybe it was time to reconsider Richard.

The key moment in all this came last year when Teddy released The Thompson Family Album. It contained two tracks a piece from Richard, Linda, Teddy, brother Jack, nephew Zak, and the Rails, consisting of sister Kamila and her husband James. I figured that if Linda and Richard could co-exist on the same record that it was time to finally embrace the career of Richard Thompson. And thus I found myself at the Keswick seeing an extraordinary show.

This tour offered a rare opportunity to see Joan Osborne as an opener. After the intermission, Thompson began his set by bringing Osborne back on stage for a beautiful duet performance of the Everly Brothers' "Let it be Me".


Photo: Carolyn Orth

After performing several songs from his excellent new album, Still, he said "enough of this new song rubbish, let's go back to the 70's". When the applause died down, he said "I was just testing you, so now we'll have a set of Journey and Foreigner tunes". When the laughter subsided he introduced the next song, the 1975 gem "For Shame of Doing Wrong"; my night was made again.

He also did the XPN favorite, "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" which sounded terrific.

He reached back to 1982's classic Shoot Out the Lights album for two great songs "Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed" and "Wall of Death", one of my very favorite Richard and Linda tracks, not the least because it's about a rollercoaster; my night made yet again.

"Tear Stained Letter" was his big show closer before being brought back for two encores. The sell out crowd was delirious.

The show was being filmed (a pro shoot with at least three video cameras), perhaps for DVD or maybe videos.

One of the most amazing things about Richard Thompson is what a stunning guitarist he is, on acoustic and even more so on electric; Thompson's records have always had phenomenal guitar work. At the Keswick, Thompson's power trio featured Taras Prodaniuk on bass, a prodigiously talented player. The solid drumming with the loud yet excellent drum sound was played by Michael Jerome.

On the night of the show, Michaela Majoun interviewed Thompson for a World Cafe session (most likely recorded during sound-check). About Thompson's guitar prowess, show host David Dye said, "Thompson was honored in the U.K. as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, and is universally acknowledged as one of the greatest guitarists of our time..."

Listen to the World Cafe interview and live session.

Bonus Video #1: Tom F posted the following video from the Keswick Show to YouTube. This is "For Shame of Doing Wrong".



Bonus Video #2: "Patty Don't You Put Me Down" This is a track from Thompson's new album. He dropped by the WFUV studios to perform it live (the WFUV videos are the best in the business).


Richard Thompson - Still
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Stream at Spotify

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