June, 2002

From Indy to the HOB

RT played a soggy set at the Indianapolis Jazz Fest Saturday as a downpour hit as he began to play the bluegrass hit "V 52". After RT's set, the fest shut down for over an hour as the audience of several thousand were advised to head to a nearby parking garage to take cover as a thunderstorm passed over.

Coming on after Nora Jones' set of cool jazz vocals, RT warned us that we'd get no jazz from him since he's exchanged jazz for cynicism because there's more money in it

the hour-long set also included (not in order)
Cooksferry Queen
Shoot Out the Lights
Crawl Back
Daddy's A Mummy
Words Unspoken/Sight Unseen
Madonna's Wedding
Outside of the Inside
Feel So Good
Wall of Death

Despite a drenched audience, it was a strong set and fairly well received by the folks brave enough to withstand the cold showers.

After the storm blew over and the stage was mopped up, Bruce Hornsby played some jazzy popcorn ; Steve Earle played an acoustic set highlighted by a new song "Jerusalem". And Aretha Franklin closed the evening with a wonderful set of vintage soul.

Tonight I'm heading to Cincinnati for a longer and drier RT performance.

On Tuesday I saw a jovial Martin Carthy perform in Cincinnati. Highlights included several morris tunes, a couple grisly classics "Famous Flower of Serving Men" and "Bill Norrie". Sadly he didn't perform my request for "The Death of Young Andrew" but perhaps three long murder ballads would have been too much.

Also the release of live cds from two of my favorite tours of the last few years, RT's "Semi Detached" and Brian Wilson's "Pet Sounds Live", made this past week a great week of music for me. And a new Guided By Voices CD next week- Life is Good!

Gary Geyer [ggeyer@infocom.com]  
Sun 6/16/2002 5:45 AM

A review of Saturday's Indy Jazz Fest from

Storm can't steal stars' thunder

By David Lindquist
June 16, 2002

Pin the blame for Indy Jazz Fest's rain delay on Richard Thompson, and he'd likely laugh a sinister laugh. It was just moments after the singer-songwriter was introduced Saturday at the American Music Stage when dark clouds rolled in from the northwest.

But instead of marring Thompson's performance, the change in weather seemed choreographed to accent his outlook. In song, Thompson willingly portrays reckless heartbreakers, jealous lovers and even anti-West zealots to make a point. Cynicism is his game, he wryly told the crowd, because there's money in it. Even as the day's first round of precipitation arrived, Thompson wouldn't flinch from his fierce, awe-inspiring duties.

Playing acoustic guitar with no backing band, he picked notes with authority and fired tandem chords one on top of the next. Thompson simply did things on guitar no other player on the bill could approach.

His lighter side? That was covered with "ancient Egypt" rave-up "My Daddy is a Mummy."

Americana singer-songwriter Steve Earle was somewhat of an odd fit sandwiched between Franklin and Hornsby. Earle mostly conveyed a disagreeable vibe, but new song "Jerusalem" distinguished itself as a pro-peace hymn. It's a tune that chest-thumping country star Toby Keith ought to hear.

Emerging chanteuse Norah Jones seduced listeners under the midday sun. Beyond a spectacular voice, interpretation seems to be her gift.

In the spirit of Ray Charles, Jones mines country material ("Cold, Cold Heart" and "The Tennessee Waltz") for its lovesick appeal.


Report from Cincinnati

I have recently rejoined the list after leaving for about a year to reduce e-mail overload. Here are a few notes on the Sunday night show in Cincinnati:

My third time to see RT. I thought his guitar playing was the best of the three: always powerful, by turns delicate, driving, supple, whatever the song demanded, always enthralling. His voice also seemed in good form: very strong and forceful.

Highlight for me was the three-song selection from his Getty material: the 14th-century Italian ballad, Shenandoah and Oops, I Did It Again. A series of well-performed songs with interesting emotional undertones that made you think a little about what makes a good pop song.

Other songs that I can remember offhand (not in order)

Word Unspoken, Sight Unseen
Crawl Back
Another new song which RT described as a Taliban-eye view of what's wrong 
with the West that ends up showing what's great about the West. The refrain 
used the line, "When I wake up in heaven, I won't realize I'm there."
Dimming of the Day
Madonna's Wedding
My Daddy is a Mummy
Cold Kisses
Ghost of You Walks
2 Fairport songs I did not know
I Misunderstood
Turning of the Tide
Cooksferry Queen

A new song whose refrain referred to singing the old songs: In the Sweet By 
and By and Auld Lang Syne
Wall of Death

I wasn't too crazy about the venue, the 20th Century Theater. All the pipes hanging down from the ceiling gave it a claustrophic feel, without as much intimacy as you would expect from a small hall. For those of us near the back, every time the door opened (which was frequent), you heard a blast of sound from the lobby that briefly drowned out RT. But the rest of the time RT triumphed over the place's limitations.

Steve Schlather

Nashville setlist, brief comments

Tue 6/18/2002 12:01 AM
1) Gethsemene
2) Cold Kisses
3) Crawl Back Under My Stone
4) Inside/Outside
5) My Daddy Is a Mummy
6) Sir Patrick Spens
7) Genesis Hall
8) Destiny
9) Madonna's Wedding
10) So Ben Mi Ca Bon Tempo
11) Shenendoah
12) Oops, I Did It Again
13) The Ghost of you Walks
14) Turning of the Tide
15) Can't Win
16) Persuasion
17) Cooksferry Queen
18) Dimming of the Day
19) I Feel So Good
20) 52 Vincent Black Lightning
21) Happy Days and Auld Lang Syne
22) Keep Your Distance
23) I Misunderstood

Insane "Only in Nashville" comment from the crowd: If I had $1 for every damned person who said something about knowing Del McCoury's "52 Vincent," but not RT's... including two yahoos behind us who kept chattering about how "yeah, we gave him a #1 bluegrass hit!" Ah, the Music Industry Weasel, in whose habitat nothing matters unless it has to do with country charts and money.

Insane request: one guy in the back kept yelling out "Changing Lanes! CHANGING LANES!" Not once, not twice, but between every single song. Huh? Who has he confused with RT? I did a quick Google search on "Changing Lanes" and lyrics, but came up with zilch, and CDNow was barren of songs called that, so what's up with this guy?

Well, I don't know what else to say -- it's like the CREEM review years ago (of DARING ADVENTURES, I think) that began "Well, it's another excellent Richard Thompson album." The extraordinary is routine with him, so it'd take something like him replacing every other word with an expletive or doing a whole show of Baja Men covers to be noteworthy in this rarified context. Maybe next time I'll see more of him than his beret.



Richard Thompson observed in
Jackson, Mississippi on June 18.

The setlist was much like Nashville. This was a night when Richard Thompson was a better-than-average performer of the some the finest songs in modern music. It wasn't that he didn't try: He came out swinging and showed signs that he was going to deliver a very intense set. Everything just worked against him from there on. 

To begin, the show was at an old railroad warehouse that has been converted into a brew pub/ restuarant/ music club. Hats off to "Hal and Mal"--the owners of Hal and Mal's-- for venturing into the RT stratus for their venue. But the stage was as ugly as any I have ever seen. Looked like a recycle from some bad high school children's theater. Indignity. It could have gone down as funky if everything else had been OK, but it wasn't. We were all treated to much annoying crowd behavior... local photographers crossing in front of the audience every ten minutes or so to get yet another photo angle... a cheerleader under stage left who felt the need to summon applause and encourage sing-along... a drunk who climbed on stage to attempt an accompaniment during Shennandoah... audience members who rudely shouted requests, comments and self-congratulatory in-crowd stuff like "What do you think of Kenny G!!?"... 

There were good moments (excellent "Shoot Out the Lights" in first encore!) , but it was obviously pretty tough for RT to summon his focus. This was probably the flatest performance I have ever seen Richard give.

Sorry to be so curmudgeonly. I was pissed off at Mississippi and still am.

McGehee, Turner [tmcgehee@hastings.edu
Mon 7/8/2002 9:21 AM

Bill Hunt wrote:

> I am a new lister who saw his first RT show last night in Nashville, and was totally blown away . The recordings I've loved for years just don't do justice to the live show.

I hope I didn't underplay the fact that RT was in fine live form! He was excellent, as ever. My personal highlight was "Genesis Hall," which never fails to move me to tears.

>I think the guy in the back was calling out Old Changing Way, an oldie I wouldn't have minded hearing either ...

That's an excellent guess, but but but he was close enough to me and repeated himself so often that there was no question that what he was saying was "Changing Lanes." He could have misheard "Old Changing Way," of course, but looked and behaved like the type of person who requests an artist's one "hit" over and over rather than a committed fan who could pull an oldies request like that out of his hat!

As for Susan's comment that she and I must have been in different audiences, we probably were. The club's booker told us before the show that the staff hadn't gotten the message that RT didn't want tables and they had taken reservations, so he put them in the balcony. Therefore the only seats we could get were at the end of the bar, and we took them. Melissa's weakened knee and 5'2" height means that squeezing in up front really isn't an option for her, so my only choices are to squeeze in up front by myself or hang out with her. I chose the latter.

It really wasn't so bad by the bar, except for the parade of people shoving between me and the woman on the other side of me to me to order drinks (she gave up on trying to see immediately, and just closed her eyes and listened). Whenever there was a critical mass of Chattering Music Industry Weasels, enough real fans were around to shush them, thank goodness. And the crowd wasn't as Weasel-intensive as RT's last solo/acoustic gig in town, nearly 13 years ago at the Exit/In.


2002 June 18

The Denver Botanical Gardens

is a wonderful place to attend a concert. You can take in bottles of beer, wine, and cameras - a very friendly venue. Because every road in Colorado is under construction during the summer months we allowed plenty of time to drive  from Colorado Springs to Denver and got there 1hr 15 mins before the gates opened. There was already a line of about 50 people waiting so we settled in our spot with cooler, chairs, blankets, rain gear (you never know what the Colorado weather will provide). I went in search of a restroom and just walked through the gate, no questions asked. I was lured by music to the stage where OH was doing a sound check. I couldn't believe it. I just stood there at the top of the grassy slope listening to him sing 'Destiny' all the way through while the sound check guy sat in various spots. I was so tempted to sit down in front of the stage and listen but eventually the urgency of finding a restroom forced me to leave. 

RT had on shorts a t-shirt and a baseball cap - I wondered if that was what he would wear for the concert, but he changed into the traditional hat, long black pants, a black shirt and black sports coat which he wore the entire time (it was very hot where I was sitting) I now knew exactly where I wanted to sit so once the gates were opened I made a bee-line for that spot, then found the food at the caterer booth. 

My husband, Dale, who introduced me to RT's music 13 years ago, was transfixed during the concert. I had to wrestle the monocular from him periodically. The crowd was attentive and appreciative. When a lady placed a vase of purple long-stem carnations on stage he quipped "I'll eat them later", and when an angelic little girl about 3 stood at the base of the stage with a transfixed look on her face looking at him, he gave her one of the carnations.  I really thought 'Madonna's Wedding' was funny and enjoyed hearing him do 'Oops' after reading about it.  I have never seen Brittany's video but my Dale said that RT mimicked some of the gestures she uses in the video. 

What a terrific show! What a great performer! Worth every effort put forth to see it. All the way home Dale and I talked about 'how can he be such a tremendous performer, songwriter and not be well known.' (the same things discussed on the list every day)

Here is a set list (some of the spelling may not be correct)

Withered and Dies
Crawl Back (sing along)
  Inside of the Outside
Daddy is a Mummy
Genesis Hall
Sir Patrick Spens
Madonna's Wedding
1000 years medly:
Italian number
Oops, I did it again
Ghost of You Walks
Turning of the Tide
Cold Kisses
I Feel so Good
Dimming of the Day
Cooksferry Queen

Encore #1:
52 VBL
Auld Lang Syne (Sweet bye and bye?)

Encore # 2
Wall of Death

Pat in Colorado Springs
2002 June 25

Richard was the first performer
at the House of Blues Anaheim

concert this last Thursday, June 27th. I refuse to say he 'opened' *for* Nanci Griffith. Indeed, I they were supposed to regarded as co-headliners. Interesting that Nanci has been with a combination of indie and major labels. I am curious how they came to be touring together. When Richard was with Capital, I think the assumption was that some of the opening acts were foisted upon him.

The show was billed as and supposed to be virtually SRO. However, some line acquaintances were saying they had rung or asked at the window and that[ luckily] HoB said they were going to be putting out more seating. I'll say. Very few had any reason to be standing unless they wanted to be in some particular spot. Conjecture: by having all these folding type chairs, it took up all the floor space and therefore the room looked more full than if people had been forced to stand. There were still tickets available at show time -- darn having used Ticketmaster -- but one just cannot risk missing out on Richard I figure. So where were all you S. CA people? Amir was there with a new convert but I don't know of any other listee. Come out come out wherever you are. Or, maybe HoB knew that Richard and Nanci attracted a less than teenage audience (or should that be 'more than'?) and standing for hours is no longer considered 'fun'.

Richard was in very fine voice I thought. Oh yeah, and he played guitar pretty well too. For an audience who I would have hazarded some guess based both on people who I directly asked and the conversations I overheard, that 90% of whom were there to see Nanci and 85% of them had never even heard of Richard, he received a very spirited welcome upon entering the stage (so my percentages must be off). He smiled a lot during his set and seemed comfortable with the room and crowd.

The set list -- the actual text on the document he glanced at is in parenthesis. I thought it might be interesting. Gee, Richard doesn't seem to follow the alphabet soup we have adopted (often annoying to me). I have also added some descriptive text as to what went on during the gig. (I'm bored with mere set lists.) Based on talking to Simon, I think I can in part confirm that "strongly suggest that it is indeed Simon who writes the tour notes" from a post from Martin Re: Catch Of The Day, 28 Jun 2002 10:57.

1) Word Unspoken, Sight Unseen (Unseen) I loved this song straightway, somewhat hook laden (as is Destiny which I also love) though it may be. It has only gotten stronger since I first it. "Laden" may be too strong a description.

2) Crawl Back (Crawl) -- I immediately helped my neighbours get into the response and all the people caught on forthwith. 

3) Inside of the Outside (Outside) -- There seems to be some debate as to whether Inside or Outside comes first. Simon does note it down by the word "Outside". Another task for some attendee of Joe's' Pub (see #6)

Predictably, about here someone called out for Beeswing to which he responded "We'll get to that". He didn't.

4) My Daddy Is a Mummy (Daddy) with intro many of us have heard (composed for kids as Egyptian example), met with much laughter and enjoyment.

Someone yelled out "Yo Richard". Very deadpan, he played it perfect by haltingly and somewhat softly by answering back -- as if to be polite -- with a "Yo...?" Then waited and added a "Ye hah" again, as if unsure as to what it even meant. We were all greatly amused.

5) Cold Kisses (ColdX) No initial laughter

Then he said that he had been in the studio lately and here was something that would be under consideration. However, not only couldn't I understand the word that probably was/would be the title, I can't decipher the set list text. I was talking to Simon (yes he was there doing he usual superb job) when we were interrupted before I could get a clarification. If anyone knows please add to my text! Unless someone has a line/source on this, it will be up to you attendees of the '1,000 Years of Popular Music' Joe's Pub, The Public Theater 425 Lafayette NYC July 9 to 13 shows. See, he has indeed taken it all one the road. I also did not get to ask Simon (Richard did no 'meet and greet') if there was to be some female accompanying him. Judith has her regular Tuesday shows at The Joint and I didn't go last Tuesday to ask her but she would have to the miss one or the other July 9th.

6) Gethsemane TBD. (spelling unsure) This being the song referenced above.

7) Madonna's Wedding (Madonna) Somewhat shorter version of introduction 
many have heard. This also garnered much laughter and enjoyment from the 

Here he then made reference to the age of people and groups (i.e. Fairport's anniversary and time passing). He also commented that virtually all the single act artists were once part of a band and gave as examples Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Sting, etc. Now I have trouble reading my scribbled notes (whole paper actually) written with my leg as my table and with a borrowed pen and too small a piece of paper. I believed the SRO and had no intention of writing anything under such circumstances but went begging at the bar when I had the chance.

8) Genesis Hall (Genesis) He introduced with reference to Fairport and Sandy's having sung it so beautifully.

9) 1952 Vincent Black Lightning (Vinc(e?)

10) Turning of the Tide (Tide)

11) Persuasion (Persuasion) Bit different to hear with no one harmonizing or doing some verses but lovely as always. Again made reference to a new studio song.

12) I Feel So Good (Feel)

13) The Ghost of You Walks (Ghost U) Cute cue.

14) Destiny (Destiny) This I heard in its introduction at Troubadour AC release show/celebration. I liked it at once, it has only grown on me and he has it under firm control now. Maybe not profound, but I find very catchy.

15) Dimming of the Day (Dim) The audience seemed especially moved.

(Next to Ghost U, Destiny and Dim was a squiggle line and what seems to be "Shoot" so I assume there was some thought of doing Shoot Out the Lights somewhere along there.)

16) Cooksferry Queen (Cooks) Rousing Upon indicting end of the set, I was somewhat surprized (due to most of the audience being there for Nanci) he got an *immediate* and most people participating, standing ovation and loud cheering. Did we get some converts?!!!

Encore (Only time for one, clap and cheer though we did) 

17) I Misunderstood (Mis)

18) Wall of Death Not on the notes but expected (as in S.D. and there was the microphone all set and ready) as a full band duet with Nanci. I think his vocals should have been louder. For those who have written being less then thrilled with this song, you may have found this version a welcome, fresh approach.

Literally up all night -- mostly writing this -- after I got home so please forgive mistakes, typos, etc.

2002 June 28

Greetings all, and thanks to Fonda

for her wonderful review of the House of Blues show in Anaheim. Not much I can add to that, except for a couple of minor details.

RT was wearing the usual all black ensemble, Kangol cap, jacket (which he kept on except for the encore with Nanci Griffith), black shirt and black pants. The shoes were very cool. Kind of in a bowling shoe motif with white laces, but it worked...

Introduced Persuasion as a song he'd written with Tim Finn, and thanked Del McCoury for keeping Vincent at the top of the bluegrass charts for nine months. Substituted "Velocets" for "Nortons", but otherwise no new bikes added to the lineup...Mentioned that Dimming of the Day was on the Ya-Ya soundtrack, to which some moron shouted out "you go girl" as the song began. And a lovely, lovely version of Genesis Hall, which I've never seen him do live before (know that he's done it lots, just that I can't recall ever seeing it).

My friend Joan loved the set, as she did when we saw him a few months back in Van Nuys. Also bumped into (unexpectedly) another colleague from my university. He had never seen RT live before. Said that he had always thought RT played a 12 string, as he didn't think anyone could get that much "sound" out of a 6 string.

Amazing to watch RT's fingers work the neck. He was doing things with his little finger that were just incredible. And he got more sound out of his one guitar than Nanci Griffith did with the 4 guitars in her orchestra...

Nanci's gig was another matter altogether. I like her music. I really do. I own about 6 of her cds, and I was looking forward to seeing her as I've never seen her live before. She was just awful. The songs were good, but in between was roughly a 3 to 4 minute introduction to each song. And then she said something very strange, how we were a subdued audience for a "House of Blues". And I was thinking to myself, "blues" must mean something very different to Nanci than it does to me. Blues for me is sad music, that you maybe grunt and moan along with, but not get up, jump and shout to. That's "rhythm and blues". And any energy that NG created in her songs she immediately lost with her long-winded introduction to the next song. No sense of stage presence at all...

And some moments of unintentional comedy. During the introduction to a song about a photojournalist who was killed in Vietnam, NG said that the woman was like CNN's Christine Ammanpour. And I'm thinking, okay, you have no clue about how network news works. I'm re-reading Neil Postman's study, _Amusing Ourselves to Death_, as I'm going to assign it for my classes next year, so this has been much on my mind... 

In the intro to "It's a Hard Life", she did talk about RT and his family being at Disneyland, and dedicated it to Jack and other kids. But way too long, and in many ways self serving. She kept talking about herself. During that intro, I went to the bathroom, went to the bar to validate my parking, and came back to find NG still introducing the song...

So that leads to this thread: have any of you had the experience of going to see someone you admired, and never saw before, and being deeply disappointed? Only other time that happened to me was seeing Dizzy Gillespie about a dozen years ago at the jazz festival in Toronto. I'd just got back a few days earlier from the Middle East, and I thought it was just me, that I was jet lagged. Then I read a wonderful review in the Toronto Star to the effect that "Dizzy Gillespie is 73 years old and for the first half of yesterday's show he sounded like it..."



p.s. On the Citronia thread, the US liquor advertising laws prohibit advertising liquor on television, but you can advertise beer and wine. Hence a number of "malt beverages" are created so that they can legally be advertised. In Canada, Mike's Hard Lemonade is made with vodka. In the US, it, like Citronia, is a "malt beverage". Tastes about the same, but with a beer base instead of a vodka base...

2002 June 28

Thompson's Darker Side Captivates
By RANDY LEWIS, Times Staff Writer

The pairing of singer-songwriters Nanci Griffith and Richard Thompson on Thursday at the House of Blues in Anaheim gave an object lesson on the yin and yang of adult folk rock. Griffith embodied all the empathy, liberal politics and effusive sharing of emotion that's a key part of the folk tradition. With the always tasteful backing of her five-piece Blue Moon Orchestra, she offered song after song exploring humanity's nobler qualities.

As the evening's yang man, Thompson preceded Griffith in a solo set, accompanying himself--magnificently--on acoustic guitar, spitting out lyrics that chafe at human frailty or revel in the darkness lurking deep in the human soul. Guess whose performance was more captivating. For all her good intentions and support of worthy causes, Griffith often gets bogged down in the chatty setups to her songs, forgetting the value of letting a good lyric speak for itself.

Thompson offered an acerbic comment here, a wry observation there during his hour set, but mostly let his music do the talking--or, in many cases, scowling, hurting and yearning. Both have gone some time without new albums: Griffith drew generously from last year's "Clock Without Hands" and is preparing a live album for the fall; Thompson dropped in a couple of numbers from an in-progress album and a couple from his 3-year-old "Mock Tudor" as he hopscotched through an impressively deep repertoire whose quality shows no signs of letting up.

Griffith brought Thompson out for a duet on the old Richard and Linda Thompson number "Wall of Death" toward the end of her 90-minute set. With just his acoustic guitar, Thompson zapped her set with some electricity missing earlier.