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Richard Thompson in Concert

In all the years I’ve been attending concerts, I could count the number of flawless performances I’ve seen on one hand. Happily, I saw one of them Saturday night, when Richard Thompson appeared at the McGlohon Theater in Charlotte. An original member of British folk-rock outfit Fairport Convention, Thompson has carved a reputation for himself as one of the world’s finest singer/songwriters, and Rolling Stone named him one of the top 20 guitarists of all time.

Thompson tours in two different formats, either with or without other musicians. Saturday night’s show was a solo concert, and the McGlohon’s superior acoustics and intimate environment served the audience well. I’ve never seen a musician captivate his audience so effectively with not only his music, but his wit and charm as well. A raised eyebrow, a sideways glance, or a sarcastic quip were all he needed to punctuate his songs and get his point across.
Richard Thompson, March 7, 2009

Standout songs included “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me,? a tribute to the tribulations of a foot soldier fighting in Iraq; “Hots for the Smarts,? hilariously praising the smoldering sexuality of brainy women; and “Crawl Back (Under My Stone),? a bitter tale of rejection and heartbreak. His playing was spectacular and emotionally moving. It’s been years since I’ve gotten so excited watching someone play a guitar solo (and that was Daniel Lanois playing at the Orange Peel in Asheville). Steve Howe, Mark Knopfler, and Jimmy Page have nothing on Thompson’s acoustic chops. Although he switches between electric and acoustic when playing with his band, for his solo appearances, he plays a Lowden L27FC acoustic guitar with a Sunrise pickup, processed through an array of stompboxes—in particular, a Uni-Vibe Leslie effect he uses to thicken his sound.

Thompson’s current tour has only a few dates left this month, in southern cities that include Knoxville, Orlando, and New Orleans. He returns to the American road in June, and then it’s back to the U.K. for additional appearances. If you have the opportunity to see him perform, you won’t want to miss it. (Photo courtesy of Diann Krewson)

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Related Topics: Emusician, Geary Yelton

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The Bus, EM's editorial blog, features posts from all the EM editors on topics related to gear, recording techniques and much more. It's also home to posts from a selected group of guest bloggers.


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