Richard Thompson and his excellent band made a very welcome return visit to the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill on Thursday evening, playing to yet another near capacity crowd.
Throughout the two hour show he took us on a journey through his 50 year songwriting career, from those early Fairport Convention days right up to the present day with several tracks from his latest ’13 Rivers’ album.
Starting off with ‘Bones of Gilead’ from ’13 Rivers’, it wasn’t long before we were taken right back to 1968, when Richard Thompson was just 19, for an outing for Fairport Convention’s ‘Tale In Hard Time’.
From then on it was like a lucky dip of tracks from albums produced throughout his career, taking in classics like ‘Wall of Death’ from his time with Linda Thompson, and solo album tracks such as ‘Tear Stained Letter’, which even provoked an audience sing-a-long.
All of this just confirmed my view that Richard Thompson is one of the best songwriters this country has produced for many a year.
That, combined with his amazing guitar playing, and the excellent musicianship of his fellow band members, added up to a memorable evening.
Drummer Michael Jerome and bassist Taras Prodaniuk have been a part of Richard Thompson’s backing band for several years now, including their last visit to the De La Warr Pavilion a few years ago, and it shows.
Both players make it all look so very easy, and are well worth watching themselves, but most eyes are inevitably drawn to the main man himself, who must surely be one of the best guitarists around today.
They were joined on stage for several songs on the night by the bands guitar tech, who added both acoustic and electric guitar. It’s not often a guitar tech gets to take to the stage as a performer, but his contribution certainly added to the overall depth of the sound.
A nice interlude was provided when Richard Thomson picked up his own acoustic guitar to delight us with a couple of solo songs, including an excellent version of his classic ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’. Yet another showcase for his superb guitar playing.
On the homeward straight he got most of us singing along to another Fairport Convention number, and one of his most famous compositions, ‘Meet On The Ledge’.
A spirited version of ‘Put It There Pal’ and the aforementioned ‘Tear Stained Letter’ brought the main set to a close, but then we were treated to not one, but two encores.
The first was another solo acoustic couplet of ‘Beeswing’ and ‘Persuasion’, which had been requested by a member of the audience, a nice touch.
‘Trying’ from ’13 Rivers’ started the final encore, before Richard Thompson dipped into his cover version box.
On his previous visit to Bexhill the band ended the gig with a great version of Cream’s ‘White Room’.
Tonight it was the turn of something less well known from the 1960's, a storming version of, ‘Take A Heart’ by The Sorrows.
A thoroughly deserved standing ovation followed, before the houselights finally dragged us from our seats.
A friend of mine posted this comment on Facebook after the gig, “Unbelievable player, unbelievable writer. Yet another whose creativity is unattainable by most.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.