Live Review: Richard Thompson – The Anvil, Basingstoke

Always a pleasure to witness Richard Thompson performing live, and for me, whilst the full electric line up is great – just him and an acoustic guitar is the ultimate way to see this extraordinary musician in action. That’s what we were treated to at The Basingstoke Anvil last Friday (27th October), and the audience lapped it up.
As good as a greatest hits set as you’re going to get – Thompson is on tour to promote his Acoustic Classics 2 record, a second plentiful helping of his most well known tracks arranged and performed acoustically – an album easily as strong as the first. Add to that a new rarities collection released just this month and you’ll be unsurprised there was much to pull from for the 90+ minute set.
Opening with an acoustic version of Gethsemane, his guitar sounding bold and strong with his familiar baritone vocal cutting through with ease – the set included fine versions of classics including Beeswing, Wall of Death, Valarie, and always my favourite – 1952 Vincent Black Lightening. What that man can do on a guitar during that song is spellbinding.
His Fairport days were acknowledged briefly, discussing how he enjoyed his time with the band during this past summers 50th anniversary celebrations at Cropredy. He then spoke with admiration about working with Sandy Denny, before launching in to a heartfelt version of Who Knows Where The Time Goes……an unexpected treat.
A couple off the new rarities album were included, as well as a new song he’s hoping to release with his band next year. However it was the classic tracks people were really there to hear, and he didn’t disappoint. The final incredible moment being an on the spot request of Crawl Back – from the Mock Tudor album, complete with echo effects added by his soundman, clearly needing to be on the ball as the song wasn’t in his original set!

I’ve written a lot about Richard Thomspon over the years, his recorded output is frequent and of a consistently high level – but live is where you really get to see this man demonstrate the reason why he’s widely regarded as one of England’s great musicians. Long may that continue to happen.

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Review by Phil Daniels

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