Perth Concert Hall, October 13
It had seemed touch and go whether we would make this gig. So often, desperate as I was to take Mrs. 17 Seconds to her first Richard Thompson gig, it seemed like something was conspiring to stop us. Finally, we took our seats and, as ever, he did not disappoint.
Although billed as Richard Thompson, it was actually the Richard Thompson trio (with a lot of help from Bobby the roadie on guitar). Whilst Thompson on his own with an acoustic guitar is pretty amazing, tonight was a reminded why one of the characters in the book of High Fidelity offers the view that he is England’s finest electric guitarist.
The reviews for 13 Rivers, his latest album have been very complimentary, and it’s clear that it’s going down as his best album for a decade, and maybe even in the 21st century. Whilst he jokes about playing a couple of new songs before playing the classics that we’ll have driven hundreds of miles for (well, Edinburgh, but y’know, it’s his only Scottish date), the live renditions of tracks from the new record like ‘The Rattle Within,’ ‘Bones Of Gilead’ and the still jaw-dropping ‘The Storm Within’ are delivered with a passion that shows these new entries to the Thompson songbook hold their own with the older entries. Live it’s amazing to watch just how much he can still rock. When people talk about Hendrix and Clapton, they should be paying attention to Thompson on that level.
His humour remains intact, he’s wry about the fact that it’s half a century of performing and he’s a genuinely funny guy. As with any Richard Thompson gig, there’s a whole heap of songs it would be nice if he played, but when the setlist includes the likes of ‘Wall Of Death, ‘ Dry My Tears And Move On,’ and Fairport Convention’s ‘Meet On The Ledge’ it would be silly to moan much. It’s mostly delivered as part of the band, but the solo renditions of ‘Beeswing’ and ‘Vincent Black Lightning 1952’ are still a masterclass in both songwriting and performance.
When I interviewed him recently, he expressed his wish to spend his 70th birthday in a cave. He’s still got plenty of energy, but if you haven’t seen him live yet, take the opportunity to do so.
And best of all, was the point where Mrs. 17 Seconds looked at me and went: ‘I get it…’