Virtuoso guitarist and legendary songwriter of bittersweet ballads, a jocular Thompson promised tonight’s reverential Richmond punters that his show would be fun…mostly. And didn’t disappoint.
With a new album of songs to promote, the audience were indulged with choice cuts from 13 Rivers which were bold, strong and as dynamic as anything he has written over his unfaltering fifty years plus in show business.
With a business like stride across the stage, a cut-off denim jacket wearing Thompson was accompanied by the excellent rhythm section of drummer Michael Jerome and bassist Taras Prodaniuk. And it was the jerky, Old Testament rumble of “Bones Of Gilead”, from the new album, that shuddered through this ornate theatre to open a well-judged set of career-spanning songs.
In fact, it’s the supple and nuanced playing by Jerome and Prodaniuk that formed a tight but loose sonic backbone allowing Thompson to weave his fretboard magic throughout this beguiling show. A master craftsman, he put on a bravura performance of electric and acoustic guitar technique. None more so than on “Guitar Heroes” from his 2015 Still album; a song where he emulates the different guitar sounds of Django Reinhardt, Les Paul, Hank Marvin, Chuck Berry and James Burton. He executed their trademark guitar sound to jaw dropping effect on his scuffed up red Stratocaster.
A fine selection of career highlights was perfectly matched by the adroit musicianship that delivered them. A jauntily rocked-up “Meet On The Ledge”, written by a 19 year old Thompson fifty years ago, worked a treat in its upbeat presentation. Not too dissimilar in vein, “Tear Stained Letter” and “Wall Of Death” had this venerable joint jumping.
But, it was the ‘glass half empty’ gravitas of the acoustic “Down Where The Drunkards Roll”, plus the sentimental tale of “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” that held tonight’s audience spellbound.
With a fuller tour announced in the USA and returning to the UK in the autumn, Thompson’s deep well of songs and his enthusiasm to perform remain as strong as ever.
Words: Paul Davies
Event Date: 23-Aug-2018