GIG REVIEW: RICHARD THOMPSON @ CAMBRIDGE CORN EXCHANGE, JAN 30

PREVIOUSLY of legendary folk-rock pioneers Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson has since built his own alure as a highly-regarded songwriter and guitarist. His acoustic show clears the stage of any clutter that might obscure these immense talents, and

PREVIOUSLY of legendary folk-rock pioneers Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson has since built his own alure as a highly-regarded songwriter and guitarist.

His acoustic show clears the stage of any clutter that might obscure these immense talents, and allows a purer Richard Thompson to shine.

He plays breathtaking acoustic guitar throughout and is accompanied perfectly by Danny "No Relation" Thompson on double bass.

Their musical interplay is clearly the result of sharing the same stage for many years - as is their warm stage presence and banter.


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Richard Thompson explains that they are still touring with acoustic album Front Parlour Ballads despite it being released a year ago. "We've still got 85,000 copies stacked up in a warehouse somewhere," he claims.

Well, I'm sure that more than a few copies will be sold on the back of this great show as it tours the UK.

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Let It Blow opens that album and is one of the many highlights of the concert. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning is driven through at great speed amidst the blur of his guitar-picking fingers.

I Got the Hots for the Smarts is a hilarious tongue-in-cheek track that takes the role of a clever party-piece. An obvious rhyming pattern teases the audience to guess his lines as he recounts his love of "smart" girls.

As the song winds comically on and on, it challenges the thought that brevity is the soul of wit. Despite all of the beauty of these songs I'm left trying to recall what he rhymed with "plutonium stains."

Anyway, enough of the wit - back to the beauty. Two songs that were originally recorded with female vocals are given a new lease of life in the set.

Fairport Convention track Crazy Man Michael, originally sung by Sandy Denny, is dedicated to her and the contrast between their voices seems to reiterate her absence - almost 30 years since she died.

I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight is my personal favourite and was originally sung by Thompson's former wife Linda on their debut album of the same name. It's a simpler song, free from some of the elements of his more traditional narrative songs. It's full of life, but being a Richard Thompson song it can't escape an air of sadness.

CHRIS BOLAND

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