Richard Thompson Band: Live at Celtic Connections
The primary emphasis of the Celtic Connection's performance is on Thompson the electric guitarist, and he continues to combine the visceral bends of unsung Uilleann pipes hero Billy Pigg with a surprisingly oblique and distinctly non-pentatonic approach to even the most rocking-and-rolling guitar histrionicslike Mark Knopfler, perhaps, through a jagged prism. Thompson is a rare electric guitarist whose language is so rich that he can manage long solos without ever resorting to cliché, while appreciating the value of every note in more limited space. Where so many guitarists posture, with facial exaggerated facial expressions, Thompson is almost dead-still; and with so many guitarists taking themselves too seriously, Thompson often has his musical tongue firmly planted in cheek, with musical quips popping up when least expected to mirror his similar wit when addressing the crowd.
For those missing Thompson the virtuosic acoustic guitaristwith only a brief acoustic segment featuring "One Door Opens" and "Al Bowlly's" during the main settwo bonus tracks from the 2011 Cambridge Folk Festival help fix that Jones. "The Uninhabited Man," one of the best tracks from Mock Tudor (EMI, 1999), and a modern day sing-along sea-song, Sweet Warrior's "Johnny's Far Away," may have been first heard in full-blown group arrangements, but Thompson's particular strength is his ability to make his songs sound absolutely complete when delivered with nothing but a single guitar and voice.
With a slew of box sets and retrospectives about Thompson in recent years, it might seem that his career is winding down, but with new albums like Dream Attic and incendiary live performances like Live at Celtic Connections, it's no leap to suspect that not only does he have plenty left to say, but the best may well, indeed, be yet to come.
Tracks: The Money Shuffle; Among the Gorse, Among the Grey; Haul Me Up; Burning Man; Here Comes Geordie; Demons in Her Dancing Shoes; Big Sun Falling in the River; Stumble On; Sidney Wells; A Brother Slips Away; If Love Whispers Your Name; The Angels Took My Racehorse Away; Can't Win; One Door Opens; Al Bowlly's in Heaven; I'll Never Give It Up; Wall of Death; Tear Stained Letter; Take Care of the Road You Choose; A Man in Need. Bonus tracks, recorded at 2011 Cambridge Folk Festival: Uninhabited Man; Johnny's Far Away.
Personnel: Richard Thompson: guitar, vocals; Michael Jerome: drums, background vocals; Taras Prodaniuk: bass, background vocals; Pete Zorn: guitars, flute, saxophone, mandolin, background vocals; Joel Zifkin: violin, mandolin, background vocals.
Running Time (feature): 132 minutes. Running Time (bonus): 11 minutes.