Troy Savings Bank Music Hall 10/27/1996
"there's no sensation to compare to this suspended animation, a state of bliss"
What to say? I'm drained. The Richard Thompson band raged for two hours and fifteen minutes last night. I'm having a hard time collecting my thoughts.
The payoff for our three-hour drive came early in the set, with the "...Going, going...*GONE*!!!" guitar solo that emerged out of "Put It There Pal" like the aliens in Aliens. The rest was pure gravy, with Richard switching between acoustic dirges and rabid electric rave ups. Highlights included a rocking "Valerie", an extended "Tear Stained Letter" that nearly rivaled the incredible live version on the box set, the acoustic gems "Vincent Black Lightning" and "The Ghost of You Walks", and Richard's inimitable bantering with the audience.
I don't think I have ever seen a drummer more sympathetic to his material than Dave Mattacks - every tap, smash and crash was precisely placed. multi-instrumentalist Pete Zorn added a Pete Townshend mandolin solo to "Shoot Out the Lights", impeccable bari sax and clarinet to the music hall tunes, and acoustic rythym to the rest. Danny Thompson took Richard's verbal abuse and held down the fort on stand up bass.
Great songs, great playing, great hall, great audience, great town, *great* night. A decent wny contingent was in the house and can verify this story. Ask Tony Wagahoff, Gary Marsden, Greg Kimbell, Tom Cole or the long-lost Lawrence Oblivious how good this band is. Go ahead, ask'em.
My only complaint was the sound was mixed a smidge too loud, the sound tech could have relied on the near perfect acoustics of the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall to carry some of the signal.
After the show subsided and we regained control of our faculties, we retired to the nearby Holmes & Watson pub to relish a couple pints of Double Diamond and savor the aural memories. Who ambled in but Pete Zorn and Dave Mattacks? We spent a good hour talking with Pete. Some of what he had to say, transcribed from memory blurred by several pints of Double Diamond.
- After a show, you can usually find Pete and David in a bar. Richard and Danny will bowl, play minature golf, or track down a pool/snooker table. They were believed to be bowling at the lanes next to the Best Western on Sunday.
- One of the rules of the band is that no one is allowed to discuss their "wingnuts", or little obsessions. David is not allowed to talk about the vintage drum equipment that he collects, Pete is not allowed to discuss his abiding passion, OOP first edition volumes about the French Revolution, and among other things, Danny and Richard keep Islam off the bus. If you ever get the chance, ask Pete about the Revolution. He is a well of interesting information.
- I asked Pete how many mandolins he had gone through on this tour. He said "It's kind of a sore spot, it's Richard's mandolin ;-)" But actually, he has been using the same one since 1992. And the deranged SOTL solo was Richard's idea. Pete was very apprehensive about preceding Richards signature solo, but he says the band is very happy with the results.
- Asked about the relatively unchanging setlist, Pete said that they approach every show from the standpoint of presenting Richard's music to a new audience. Given RT's cultlike status, I'm not certain of the wisdom of that approach, but the Thomnmo virgins in the audience did enjoy the show. This morning, half-awake, on our way to check out of the Best Western, our elevator door opened and Richard himself was standing there. Quite surprised, we managed to mumble a quick, "great show last night, thanks", and he gave us a quiet thank you and a kind of facial high sign and stepped into the elevator. Damn, I should have stuck out my hand and said "put it there, pal."
I feel so good, I'm gonna make somebody's day tonight.