BWW Reviews: ADELAIDE FESTIVAL 2015: THE RICHARD THOMPSON ELECTRIC TRIO Delighted A Packed Her Majesty's Theatre
Reviewed by Ray Smith, Thursday 5th March 2015
The Richard Thompson Electric Trio evening began with Thompson performing solo on acoustic guitar quipping that, "while it feels strange to be opening for himself, it may provide some exposure, and could be a good career move". Richard Thompson is one of the most loved and prolific songwriters in the world and has remained so for decades. His easy and witty conversational interactions with his audiences puts his listeners at ease as he discusses his history, his process and the players that he has worked with and admires. His warmth and generosity is palpable and he seems genuinely humbled and slightly embarrassed as he smiles self-consciously at the cheers, whistles and calls of his adoring fans.
His opening set included songs from quite early recordings and others from an album yet to be released. The familiar Misunderstood and Walking on a Wire were welcomed as old friends by the audience before he introduced us to Josephine, a song yet to be released. The unmistakable opening bars of Vincent Black Lightning instigated a roar of approval and tumultuous applause before he could utter the first line.
We were urged to join in on the choruses of another new song, Johnny's on the Rolling Sea, which Thompson described as, "my attempt at a sea shanty". Of course, the audience obliged with little further prompting as they settled back into the comfortable armchairs by the welcoming fire of Mr Thompson's living room. The proscenium vanished, the stage disappeared. The beautiful old theatre became a cosy cottage by the sea where old friends had gathered to sing a song or two. Such is the power and magic of this consummate artist. His guitar playing was, of course, breathtaking.
The interval allowed audience members a chance to grin at each other over a glass of wine, in that delightful camaraderie only true fans can know, as each relived their favourite part of the opening set.
In the second set we were introduced to bassist Taras Prodaniuk and drummer/percussionist Michael Jerome. Their skill and power were evident from the first song, All Buttoned Up, another new one. Jerome is a tall and powerful looking man and his drumming mirrored his stature. His playing is bold and fluid yet subtle enough to gently cross the Ts and dot the Is of Thompson's lyric.
Prodaniuk is a phenomenally skilled player with enormous energy and precision. His jazzy voicings offering a perfect foil to Thompson's rocky lines.
Once again we were treated to a mixture of old favourites such as, Can't Win, Wall of Death, and the tragic but beautiful, Al Bowly's in Heaven, and new works, such as, Sally B and I'll Never Give It Up. The trio were extraordinarily tight but their playing allowed for solos from Prodaniuk and Jerome, as well as Thompson himself.
The ever vigilant and extremely busy 'Guitar Tech' quietly flitted on and off stage, supplying a freshly tuned Stratocaster or a readily "capodastroed" acoustic, ensuring an unbroken flow of superb music. Strangely, at about the mid point of the set, he handed over yet another electric guitar to Richard Thompson and then took a seat himself unobtrusively stage right, still clutching the acoustic guitar he had just taken. "The next song", Thompson explained, "requires another guitar player" as he gestured to the seated 'Tech', Bobby Eichhorn, and so began, Guitar Heroes. The song outlines the loss of schooling, a lover, a job and finally family, suffered by a young man obsessed with guitar playing and relentlessly pursuing the stylings of his guitar heroes. A touch of autobiography?
Incorporated into the song are snatches of Django Reinhardt, Les Paul, Chuck Berry and the Shadows to illustrate their respective references, and all were played flawlessly by the trio and the very able Bobby Eichhorn. It ends with the line, "I still don't know how my guitar heroes did it." That's a bit of a fib isn't it Richard.