LIVE AT ROCK CITY (Nottingham) 1986
A Genuine Living Legend On the Cusp of Greatness.
In November 1986; the month that this Dbl Live album was recorded Erasure, Duran Duran, Kim Wilde and Swing Out Sister were topping the UK Pop Charts; yet Richard Thompson’s music has aged much better than any of them.
It’s not that his music; in particular his songwriting hasn’t evolved in the intervening 34 years; but if he turned up at your local concert hall with the same band of musicians in tow and played this set note for note; you would still be thrilled and satisfied at an evening and money well spent.
Arguably recorded at the height of Thompson’s ‘Commercial success’ this album was originally a radio show (Radio 2?) so the production is far clearer than a bootleg or two that I own from the same era; and the intricacy of his sublime and inventive guitar playing shines through every song.
Starting with a huge roar that greets Thompson, the first song Man in Need (from Shoot Out The Lights) gets the evening off to a fantastic start; combining as it does, Thompson’s trademarked Folk sensibilities with his Electric guitar ……. showing that Folk Rock really could and still can R.O.C.K!
Although promoting the DARING ADVENTURES LP; Thompson also dips daringly into his back catalogue; breathing new life into the likes of Calvary Cross, Two Left Feet and a personal favourite of mine; Tear Stained Letter …… which are still regular parts of his current concerts.
As you’d expect from a Richard Thompson concert there are surprises around every corner; and just when you’re not expecting it he drops in the Whitefriar’s Hornpipe/Shreds and Patches medley; featuring the dexterous accordion playing of John Kirkpatrick; and while not my first musical love proves to be a real toe-tapper (which was dangerous as I was driving at the time!)
There’s plenty here for part-time fans like me to enjoy; most especially You Don’t Say with Richard and Clive Gregson trading verses and harmonising like Folk’s answer to the Everly Brothers; plus I’d totally forgot that Thompson supplied the theme tune to Life and Loves of a She-Devil; and Christine Collister’s vocals and Thompson’s spooky tune still have the power to put the wind up my metaphorical kilt!
It’s a long time since I played the album; but I don’t remember Shoot Out The Lights or Al Bowly’s in Heaven sounding this dark and dangerous, here both sound almost Gothic in tone.
For a Favourite Track I’m not sure whether to go for the tried and trusted in Wall of Death (one of my Top 20 songs of all time) or something brand new to me; in this case The Angels Took My Racehorse Away (from 1972’s Henry The Human Fly) which blew me away the first time I heard it last week; but I’m going to compromise with the fabulous Nearly In Love; a song I loved way back when, from the DARING ADVENTURES LP; but not heard again for 35 years or more; because Thompson proves what a skilled craftsman he was with storytelling and song construction; plus his guitar playing throughout shows why so many people rate him as one of the most innovative guitars players of all time.
Apart from Richard Thompson’s voice being a tad smoother and more excitable than it is today; these songs and the man himself don’t appear to have aged a single day in the intervening years on this marvelous snapshot in time.
Released 13th March 2020