Electric – Richard Thompson

I saw Richard Thompson at the Sage, Gateshead (probably the best music venue in the world, but also the most earnest) a couple of weeks ago. For me, the gig was important for a number of reasons, this was the first time I had seen RT with a band and equally important, it was the first time I heard someone in the UK yell Freebird during a gap in the songs. Yelling Freebird at gigs is an American phenomenon going back quite a while (I have heard Bill Hicks live recordings where he gets very angry at someone shouting for Freebird). I had never heard anyone in the UK shout this until the RT gig. He dealt with it quite well considering he has probably heard it before as he plays in the USA more than the UK, but it didn’t get a big laugh in Gateshead, there were a few knowing titers and that was it. Maybe the next time I see Stewart Lee I will shout out for a Norman Collier joke, or even a Nor…an Col…ier joke.
This is a great album, and worked really well live, the guitar wigout on Sally B was particularly good. There are some great guitar wigouts on the album, along with Sally B, Stuck on the Treadmill has an amazing wigout towards the end. Harmonic dissonance, man.
Standout; The guitar playing of course.
An aside; Richard Thompson always looks good on stage, beret et al. More can’t be said for his old mates Fairport Convention, as much as I love them, they can never be said to be cutting edge in terms of stage garb. There is far too much bad knitwear in folk music.

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1000 Years of Popular Music – Richard Thompson

Talk about doing what it says on the tin. This album does exactly that, 1000 years of popular song, from Sumer Is Icumen In to Britney Spears, I kid you not. Richard T does a cracking version of Opps… I did it again (when this particular song was in the charts I remember referring to it as Opps… I did it again, I wrote the same song). Actually I have a small confession (or a large one depending on your musical taste), on Richard’s lips, this is a really good song. I wonder if Britney has heard it?
So many great versions on this album, a wonderful version of Shenandoah and great version of The Blackleg Miner. And his version of Money, Money, Money (yes, the Abba song) features some classic Thompson guitar, and makes it sound like a folk song (Maybe all songs are folk songs, in a sense).
Hidden gem: King Henry V’s Conquest of France, simply beautiful.
Micro review: Richard’s run through the 1000 year history of song, can’t imagine anyone else capable of doing this.