[ATTENDED: October 9, 2016] Richard Thompson
That’s a lot of Richard. But I couldn’t pass up this show because the Sellersville Theater is one of the most intimate venues around. I scored Row G seats like in McCarter although Sellersville’s row G is a bit further back because they have tables in the front. But it was still like having him play in my living room.
I’ve seen him play in many different styles over the years. This summer he also toured with Bonnie Raitt with his trio. I would have gone to that one, since I haven’t seen his trio, but prices were way too much and I don’t like Bonnie Raitt–well, her music anyway, I’ve no opinion about her. Like the last two times, this was just him and his acoustic guitar. And while I would love to have gotten a different setup, there is nothing wrong with just him and his guitar.
This was a matinee show (2PM!) thrown together kind of at the last minute (it was announced less than a month ago). He joked about how matinees are usually played fro 5-year-olds or 95-year-olds–either playing 1930s covers or Puff the Magic Dragon. He was glad that we were between those ages.
And like last time, there was the man just six rows away. And I got to watch every amazing solos and chord changes and capo placements and tuning and everything else he could do with that one guitar. For the McCarter how he played for 2 hours. We only got 90 minutes (he said “I have three more minutes before I turn into a pumpkin”) which is a little skimpy (although probably about the normal length for a show).
And while no RT show is disappointing, I was a little bummed that his setlist was almost exactly the same as the one he played at McCarter. The first two songs were different, but almost all of the rest were the same. And there were no requests or improvs, apparently.
I mentioned last time that he doesn’t play a lot of songs from his new album. Which is a shame both because his newer albums have been outstanding, but also because he works pretty hard at them (I assume), and he should get to play more from them. Of course, I totally get that he is practically contractually obligated to play “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight” “Beeswing” “Persuasion” and something from Fairport Convention. But holy cow, he has so many songs. He could play a different setlist every night for a month!
But enough griping, because the show was great. he sounded fantastic and the acoustics in Sellersville are really top-notch.
He started with “When the Spell is Broken” a lovely song that I’ve heard him play before, but not recently. And then “Walking on a Wire,” another classic. And, if memory serves, this is the first time I’ve heard him play an incorrect chord–a brief mistake that he quickly corrected. He then played “Josephine” from the new album. And amazingly, he started with the wrong chords. He explained that it was early for him. 2PM is early for musicians. Then he played it perfectly. When done, he asked if the song was weird. It is weird. Even for him.
As always it was fun watching him play “Valerie” because the solo is really exciting–and he was so close I could see everything. And someone even got up in teh aisle to dance for him (“only 1 dancer? pathetic”). Then he asked if anyone had been to Amsterdam, and when some people clapped, he said, Oh all of you, excellent. This was his introduction to “Beatnik Walking” a great song I could listen to every time he plays. When we clapped for the song he joked,”thank you record buyers… all two of you.”
“1952 Vincent Black Lightning” is, of course, a love triangle (do you have them here in Sellersville?) between a man, a woman and something else. I do love “Dry My Tears and Move On,” a lovely breakup song as ever there was.
It must be hard not to play the old songs when the crowd goes nuts for “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight.” And, as always, it was great.
I has actually assumed he played “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” the previous outing, but that must have been the time before. Despite it being voted as Britain’s favorite folk song (he encouraged our applause for such an accomplishment and then commented that we could use that tidbit to explain who he was when we talked about the show), it’s one that I didn’t know well. Well, I do now after his playing it a few times. And while he may not have the voice of Sandy Denny, his version is lovely.
He told us that “Good Things Happen to Bad People” was nominated for an Americana award. But lost. And he’d play it anyway. And it was spot on. I was tickled that he played “Hots for the Smarts” a silly song which he has never recorded but which is funny (I need him to get “Hamlet (Dog Eat Dog in Denmark)” back into the rotation. He enjoyed trying to get us to sing along to the amusing rhymes.
An excellent version of “Wall of Death,” (to much applause) was followed with “Woods of Darney,” a song I didn’t recognize last time, but which is stark and moving.
He had great fun introducing “Fergus Laing,” (a bonus song on Still). He said it was about a rich businessman who has been building golf courses all over Scotland. In February he said “They are trying to get him banned from Britain.” This time he said that they had gotten 500,000 signatures to get him banned. He said the song was mostly about his buildings, but that Richard has added a verse now that the man has gotten into politics. (And with things happening every day there’s so many things he could write). Someone in the back shouted “he’s a piece of crap!” which made Richard laugh. We enjoyed it much and he had fun getting us to sing the line “small are his erections.” He also played some extra verses in a Scottish accent about Donald not wearing trousers.
For the encore he played “Persuasion” (beautiful) and had fun introducing “Read About Love” (about dirty magazines), which got someone to stand up and dance.
He came back for a second encore. I’m not sure what he was planning to play, because he complained that we were messing up his plan. But he ended with “Beeswing.” I can’t imagine that he wasn’t going to play it, but who knows. As always, it was a beautiful version.
And that was it.
Sellersville is pretty small and artists often hang out by the merch table to chat and sign things. But not so, Richard. The employee said he never does. Pity. I want to tell him how much I love his shows and that I’d love him to play more stuff from his new releases.
I may be done with seeing him for a bit now, unless he comes back with a band set up–it’s always fun to see him mix it up.
|February 9, 2016
||October 9, 2016
|[this space left blank by accident]||When the Spell is Broken|
|The Sun Never Shines on the Poor||Walking on a Wire|
|The Ghost of You Walks||Josephine|
|Johnny’s Far Away||1952 Vincent Black Lightning|
|Beatnik Walking||Dry My Tears and Move On|
|1952 Vincent Black Lightning||I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight|
|Dry My Tears and Move On||Who Knows Where the Time Goes?|
|I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight||Good Things Happen to Bad People|
|Genesis Hall||Hots for the Smarts|
|Good Things Happen to Bad People||Wall of Death|
|Woods of Darney||Woods of Darney|
|Read About Love||Fergus Laing|
|Wall of Death||Persuasion|
|I Misunderstood||Read About Love|
|Down Where the Drunkards Roll|
|One Door Opens|
|Shoot Out the Lights|