Richard Thompson in Berkeley - 10 July 1996

"Berkeley -- I know all about you. That's where they do all those drugs". Crowd member in one of the front rows cheers. Richard says: "Right down here, officer, we got one..."

Richard got underway at 8:15, starting at a breakneck speed. The tempos of all the songs seemed "pushed", and he even commented that he was cutting down on the stage banter to squeeze as many songs in as possible. Setlist:

"Ghost..." suffered most from the hurried pace, IMHO. During 52VBL, the solo was astonishing, with the thunderous applause after it causing him to false start a bit early, then double back & start again. He even threw "Harley" into the cycle list, as well as Enfield & others, keeping us all on our toes.

Cold Kisses had "Jackie Collins" substituted for Margaret Millar... which got quite a few chuckles.

Oh BTW, I am quite surprised that list-people don't seem to see the humor in Cold Kisses. The line that always gets the laughs started in the beginning is: "...5 minutes, that's time enough", which is a very ironic line. Sure, it has a chill to it, and I agree with Irene 's evaluation that the laughter may be a bit of nervous self-recognition... and of course the "X, Y and Zed" line also got quite a few laughs. He prefaced the song, saying it was "one about a Siberian Hairdresser"

"Dog Eat Dog.." is, in Richard's words "Hamlet done in 2:37", a number that I doubt will stay on during the electric tour. It's funny in it's own way, but not a keeper (I hope). Richard hams up the intro, saying "you know, I just don't get this 'culture'... I mean, 5 hour plays with 17 acts..."

There was a short lull, where some audience requests were shouted, including "Smiffy's" & "Calvary Cross". To CC, he held up his Lowden mockingly to one side, and said "what, power chords on this!?!"

Walking on a Wire was a welcome 'oldie'. It was indeed unusual to see RT trying out his voice on this one. Last night, it seemed a bit out of the vocal range for him. Not that he hit any sour notes, but it was really hard to get Linda's voice out of my head... I kept wishing for Susan W. to come on stage & have a whack at it.

He ended the set with Hide It Away. I was very impressed how much he has reworked the all the acoustic numbers. Having seen him 3-4 times during the last go-'round, I was reticent to have another "same 'ol set", but he has changed the arrangements noticeably, which was quite a treat. I guess you could see this as the "Nude" part of the tour. I can't wait for the "Voltage Enhanced".

He came on for the encore with Susan, and was having some tuning problems on the intro., which caused him to quip "just like Dylan" and subsequently, he launched into his Bob D. impression, about 5 seconds of "It Ain't Me, Babe"... finally, on the third try, he got it, and they played a marvelous duet of Wall of Death. I really wish Richard would do more duets! Richard & Susan were quite humorous, pantomiming to persons off-stage to beat up some audience members making requests.

Despite a 2nd standing ovation, Richard ended the set here. I suppose more might have been anticlimatic. I was really glad to have gone, as I was imagining that this would be "just another acoustic gig", and I'm glad he proved me wrong.

-Karl Eric Johnson