Genius at Work
Now it wouldn't surprise me if a lot of R13 readers had never heard of Richard Thompson, since the 80s he has successfully managed to stay off the mainstream radar but has always maintained a healthy set of admirers. He was a founder member of 70s folk rockers Fairport Convention but then went on to have a lengthy solo career, which continues to this day. Why should you care? Well how about the fact he was named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the Top 20 Guitarists of all-time, has received an Ivor Novello Award for song writing and also a BBC Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006! Quite simply the man is a legend and even if you're not a fan of his music you can't help but admire his technical ability.
Today we find him gracing the Ents 24 stage at Guilfest in a solo acoustic set. There's no mistaking his distinctive voice as he gives a fine rendition of 'Basheba Smiles' before moving into 'Walking On A Wire'. Thompson's guitar playing is just sensational, his seemingly effortless finger picking is really something to behold, if you weren't looking at him you'd swear there were two or three people up there playing, he really is that good.
As his set progresses he is backed by a glorious sunset whilst a rainbow arcs over the stage, all of which just adds to the atmosphere that he creates. Twenty Five minutes in the sound cuts out for a few minutes but ever the pro he just picks up the song where it left off. There is plenty of witty between song banter, which further serves to endear him to the crowd before he seals the deal with his biggest hit 'I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight'. There is a smattering of songs from his most recent album ('Sweet Warrior') including the appropriate 'Sunset Song' but the real highlight of the set is the excellent '1952 Vincent Black Lightning', which features yet more devastating fretwork.
There were perhaps too many slower numbers and it would have been nice to have had his touring band play on a few tracks but they are minor points. Richard Thompson has proved once again that he is more than capable of holding a crowd on his own and the reaction he gets is more than justified.