This ‘Richard Thompson Electric Trio’ article was written by James Candlin, a GIGsoup contributor
Let it never be said that even at the age of 66, Richard Thompson can’t pack a theatre, jump around like House of Pain, and shred those wild, melodic guitar solos which brought the folk/rock legend to fame way back in the 1960s.
Entering the theatre, most would expect to be met with no shortage of grey hairs and bald spots but the closer it got to the start of the show the more the average age had dropped to late thirties/early forties, formed by an eclectic audience of men and women with purple hair styles and flared jeans. One or two gentlemen even saw fit to don the standard Richard Thompson beret. Che Thompson!
Touring with the Richard Thompson Electric Trio were the up and coming folk band The Rails composed of Thompson’s daughter Kami Thompson and her husband James Walbourne. Dazzling the audience with songs from their new album ‘Australia’, the duo ensnared the entire crowd with the ringing brilliance of Walbourne’s guitar work accompanied by the beautiful harmonies and rhythm provided by Thompson. The traditional, ariose, catchy tunes of The Rails were the perfect start to the night and were recognised with a roaring round of applause.
But everybody knew who they had all come to see.
Barely had the excitement settled when Thompson strolled onto the stage, as happy as ever (signature beret in position of course), followed by The Rails so the trio could perform Richard’s anti-Wall Street, banker bashing anthem ‘That’s Enough.’
‘Nepotism!’ postulated Thompson in his typical jovial fashion before he, his daughter and her husband broke into sing-song. Enthused by the crowd’s chanting back of the chorus, Thompson was sure to be settled in for a good night as fellow band members Taras Prodaniuk (bass) and Michael Jerome (percussion) took to the stage.
Thompson smiled, embraced his gleaming red Stratocaster and engaged the foot-stomping, head-banging crowd with his acrobatics (perhaps a slight exaggeration for ‘loads of jumping about’). Kicking off with ‘All Buttoned Up’, punctuated with a series of Thompson style guitar solos, the band then reeled off some more crackers from the new album such as ‘Broken Doll’ with its haunting bass line and complex drumming patterns, ‘No Peace No End’ and ‘Beatnik Walking.’
Thompson ensured the guitarists were not left wanting with his emblematic guitar solos. It kept up the illusion that nobody else in the world could quite bring out the delicate balance between spontaneity and careful restraint which his wailing solos seem to strike. Definitely a must for guitarists of all kinds.
During the band’s performance of ‘Al Bowlly’s in Heaven’, Jerome seemed calm and somewhat amused when his incredible drumming brought the stage techs charging onto the stage to re-attach the snare drum which his vicious, accurate percussive skills had sent for a tumble. In fact, his major drum solo even included the feat of switching from using drum sticks to using his hands to turn the kit into a set of bongos.
It would be futile to expect a shortage of humour from Thompson. As a tribute to his veteran fans he remarked ‘I recognise some of you from 1968!’ To a female ‘woo!’ at the joke he retorted, ‘Ahh, Debra! How’s the knee?’
Instead of having the custom ‘break’ which bands do so love, Thompson took the mid-point to perform some of his acoustic classics such as ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’ which elicited an incredible round of applause, as did his performance of ‘Salford Sunday.’
Shortly after the masterly performances of ‘Wall of Death’ and the old Fairport Convention classic ‘Meet on the Ledge’, the band responded to the first standing ovation with their first encore of the evening. Kicking off with ‘Patty Don’t You Tell Me’ they then followed with ‘Guitar Heroes’ which included skilful examples of each type of playing, from Django Reinhardt and Les Paul to The Shadows and Chuck Berry.
Of course no evening is complete without at least two encores, and of course the band indulged leaving the crowd with such delights as ‘Did She Jump or Was She Pushed’ before finishing on ‘Daddy Rolling Stone’.
With a grand total of an incalculable number of guitar solos, 3 standing ovations, two encores and one well satisfied audience, the night was another success for the Richard Thompson Electric Trio. The band are touring now, soon to play in Birmingham, Cardiff and Cambridge. These seasoned musicians offer everything from humour, sensational guitar solos and drum mastery, to grizzly bass lines, melodic jazz and energetic rock. With, of course, Thompson’s quintessential folk stylings to top things off. The new album ‘Still’ is an absolute must for anyone who regards music as one of their lives’ cornerstones!