Richard Thompson seemed grateful for the turnout at the Egyptian Theatre on Friday, Sept. 14. On an evening offering several free downtown events the members of Thompson's audience paid to see him perform. He said, "We must be mad." If so, it was a wonderful madness.
I have been around awhile and though I had heard songs from Thompson's new album, Sweet Warrior, on Internet radio, I had never had the pleasure of seeing him live. Now I know what I have been missing: a master minstrel of the European tradition.
Thompson's show was a gathering of the faithful, with very few young people, sad to say. It seems that I was not alone in my ignorance of this very talented man. I knew of Fairport Convention—the legendary band he helped form in the '60s—and I knew of Sandy Denny's involvement with Fairport Convention, but that was the extent of it.
Thompson quickly made a convert of me, playing three songs from the new CD and then taking the audience on a wondrous journey through a body of work that spans four decades.
Richard can rock. Richard can reggae. His voice is strong and true. His guitar work is in a style all his own and his lyrics are on a level with Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon. And he seems to enjoy what he does, and his positive energy suffused the room.
The standout numbers of the night were "Dad's Gonna Kill Me" and "Sunset Song," from the new album, and "1952 Black Vincent Lightning," a folksy ballad about a redhead in black leather and a wicked-fast motorcycle.
Thompson brought a solid band with him, but I enjoyed his solo efforts as much, if not more than those of the rest of the band. He played a beautiful acoustic guitar that had a magnificent tone and depth to its sound. This was also my first time seeing a live performance at The Egyptian Theatre, and I had such a wonderful time, it will not be the last. I am grateful I had the chance to see Richard Thompson—an extraordinary talent—in such a special place.