Monday, March 05, 2007

Richard Thompson at the Lakewood Theater

Just saw Richard Thompson for the second time in the last 2 years. If Clapton is God, then there must be a "Supremer Being" who created God, and that would be Richard Thompson. One of the original founders of Fairport Convention, Thompson has for the past 40 years made his own way ("still paying the mortgage", as he put it last night) in a world where most songs long for the "Top 100" to validate their existence. Thompson's genius is that he has merged the medieval English/Scottish troubadour with the English Music Hall entertainer. Ray Davies and Paul McCartney also come out of that English Music Hall tradition. And it's precisely that Thompson IS so English that he has stayed so fresh.

But, in Thompson's case, add to that, the most accomplished guitar player playing today, and you see where he enters the pantheon of modern music. When he plays, he is usually keeping a bass line running, simultaneously playing lead with three of his fingers, and interspersing chords among that symphony of sounds: in effect, he makes one guitar sound like three guitars. And, might I add, flawlessly. Eliza Gilkyson, who has been opening for him on this tour, said it best: "He doesn't wank". Anyone who plays acoustic guitar knows how difficult it is to avoid hitting an occasional wrong string, or muting a string accidentally. Thompson is playing at lightning speed, with almost all 10 fingers moving this way and that, and doesn't make a single error.

Add to that, he is one of the best living songwriting talents, with moods ranging from dark ("From Galway to Graceland") to satirical ("Dear Janet Jackson": suggesting she use her breasts for their original purpose).

If you have more than tin for a musical ear, you have to put Richard Thompson among the artists you want to hear before you die.

P.S. Thanks to the Richard Thompson website for including this tribute on their website, which you must check out here.