January 2003

One thing

has always annoyed me at Liberty Hall: the occasionally inane music they play preceding a concert. Sometimes the sound man selects it; sometimes Liberty does. Tonight there was nothing but the blissful buzz of excited fans waiting for a few moments with our Hero.

Attired in dapper Kangol, his own black leathers and a black T with silver zags, ( see picture at http://www.richardthompson-music.com/catch_of_the_day.asp?id=60 ) Richard took the stage promptly at 2000. He launched into a blissful evening of old ones, new ones and a lovely visit to 1000 years of popular music.

Set list

Withered and Died (he mentioned as celebrating its 30th Birthday)
Cocksferry Queen
Taliban Song (is that Outside of the Inside?)
Alexander Graham Bell
Now Be Thankful

---- and then the string broke ----

So after Simon left the sound board and got him a new string...we had:

Sam Hall (acapella with audience participation)
So Ben Mi Ca(I know a Lucky Fellow) - (in Lovely colliquial, medeval Italian)
Shenandoah (which he suggested should be the new American Anthem)
Oops I did it again (I admit... I yelled for it, bt I was not Alone!)
Happy Days and Auld Lang Syne
1952 Vincent Black Lightening
Crawl Back Under My Stone.
Ghost of You Walks
Turning of the Tide
King of Bohemia
She Twists the Knife Again
Dimming of the Day

Wall of Death
Sight Unseen

I Misunderstood.

Highlights: Getting my picture of him from Ram's Head from like '84 signed... Hearing Withered and Died in concert.

Lowlight: the tall guy in front of me! Realizing that my 20 year old daughter did a dance routine to Turning of the Tide when she was 7!

Maybe its me... but this is possibly the best concert of his I've seen. Some sound glitches at first, and couple times he had to remind himslef of some words <g>. And oddly enough, I can honestly say this is the "oldest" crowd I've seen him with. Unless all the "kids" were upstairs, their seemed to be a definite upswing of his demographic this evening.

Great concert. Great company (nice to meet you Dave Schultz - hope we didn't talk your ear off!). I'm off to order my copy of Old Kit Bag from amazon.uk.

Shelly Nuessle  

Of course, someone who knows more about this will correct me if I'm wrong, and someone who knows less will correct me if I'm right.

RT Show Lawrence, KS 

Set List:

Withered and Died
Cooksferry Queen
Message in the Wind
Alexander Graham Bell
Now Be Thankful
Sam Hall (acapella, while he changed a broken string)
Bon . . .Tempo
Oops! I did it Again
Happy Days and Auld Lang Saign
1952 VBL (bit slower than normal)
Crawl Back Under My Stone
Ghost of You Walks
Turning of the Tide
King of Bohemia (slower than normal)
She Twists the Knife Again
Dimming of the Day

E: Wall of Death
Word Unspoken, Sight Unseen

E2: I Misunderstood

Just a quick note that it was a great show! Met up with Shelley and Kathy (sp?) for dinner. RT came out afterwards and signed stuff for about ten people who waited around. The crowd was a little stiff, not joining in on the sing-along portions of Oops! and Crawl Back, despite RT's encouragement. Time to go to bed!

from Emporia, KS
Thu, 16 Jan 2003

On the way home from the concert

I told my wife that I bet it was Shelly that called out for Oops,  Actually, she yelled out one song too early (OH responded something to the effect that he would not stoop that low, Madam) because the call came from about where Shelly said she would be sitting - and of course, a list member would be the most likely to know when a song was coming. 

Certainly, we noticed and remarked about the same aging audience (except for our 12 year old son, who they graciously allowed to sit with us on the 21 and over floor level - our 7 year old daughter wanted to come as well , but she had school today while our son got the day off).  I looked up at the balcony several times as people were seating, and did not notice younger crowd there, alas.  You would hope in a college town that he would draw some students, in addition to the professors (and librarians - and to continue the long running librarian string, my wife and I, while not librarians, did meet as teenagers while working in a library).

Jan and I agreed in the twenty or so times we have seen Richard, this was probably in the top two or three.  Maybe it was because it was the first show he has played in a couple of months, but every single song received a very intense performance.  Particularly outstanding where Cooksferry Queen, Crawl Back, and Oops.  Also very impressive was Gethsemene; for the moment, at least, basking in the glory of hearing it live, I have to agree with those who say it is more powerful solo than on the upcoming CD track with the band. 

A particularly cute moment was in Crawl Back, when after a very nice guitar bit, a light smattering of applause occurred as he began to sing the next verse --- three words into it, as if he was insulted that so few were applauding his fancy playing, he backed off the mike and did another, even more impressive guitar break --- I took it as a bit of a send up, and did not get the impression that he was really insulted.

As Shelly said, great show.

Pete Jarchow
Fri 1/17/2003

I have just seen
The Great Richard Thompson 

perform twice in a week. I know a lot of you do it that way, but it's a first for me. 

Summary: I saw the difference between a great RT concert (Lawrence, Kansas, Jan 16 ) and a truly extraordinary RT concert (Omaha, Nebraska, Jan 19). After the Lawrence show, I thought that perhaps I'm just too familiar with Richard's performances to ever again go into The Zone with him. Omaha proved me wrong.

The Lawrence show was among the stronger solo RT shows I have seen, but it seemed to me that he had some focus problems in the first half of the show. There were little mistakes in almost every song. He chattered too much between song. In the second half of the show, after the "variety" section, he tucked in and really delivered a series of fine performances. The encores seemed best of all to me.

At Omaha, it was spot-on from the first. He did not let up an iota for two more hours. He was relaxed and intense, all at once. Clear proof of the deity!! Praise!!! 

Previously, I thought the Celtzmertz-era tours were a high water mark in Richard's solo shows. I think last night's performance at Omaha raised the mark again.

I'll leave it to others to analyze particular songs and give a song list. I'm basking in the afterglow of a peak experience, and I don't want to talk too much right now.


Turner McGehee
Art Department
Hastings College
7th and Turner
Hastings, NE 68901

tel: (402) 461-7325
fax: (402) 461-7480
e-mail: tmcgehee@hastings.edu 

Bruce Springsteen

The list hasn't exactly been pulsating with news of Richard's brief swing through the Midwest. 

Here's all I've got: a friend of mine saw him in Omaha last night. RT greeted the audience by noting he had never been in Nebraska before, and: "I was happy to learn it wasn't at all like Bruce Springsteen said."

Mon 1/20/2003

Very fortunately for me,

my wife Andrea is a devoted RT fan and also loves to travel. When I told her the itinerary for this tour, she happily started looking into which show we would be able to attend.

The first choice was the Bozeman show. While it is 1000 miles from Minneapolis, it is only 30 miles from the house we own in Montana. We dearly love it there and the thought of combining an RT show, a visit with my sister, winter fly fishing (for me) and downhill skiing (for her) was very attractive indeed. Unfortunately, there was no way to fit it into the schedule.

Attention then turned to the Sioux Falls date. It was on a Saturday and only four hours away. Eldest daughter had the weekend free to stay with youngest daughter. Wife had no rehearsals or performances. Bingo!

We left home on the afternoon of the show and made the rather pleasant drive through western Minnesota farm country to eastern South Dakota. After checking into the hotel, we headed right for the theater. The show was general admission, so we wanted to both make sure there were no problems with the tickets (ordered on-line through Ticketweb) and that we had a good choice of seats. The good news is that there were no ticket hassles and we had excellent seats in the third row. The bad news is that we didn't get any dinner, having been somewhat mislead about the availability of food in the area.

In addition to that discomfort, the theater was quite cold. You couldn't see your breath, but just about everyone kept their coats on for the entire show. (Keep in mind that we were dressed for the 10 degree F outdoor temperature.) As the audience slowly assembled, I was struck by the fact that they looked just like the RT audiences at every other show. Most of the conversations were about music. You would have felt right at home.

I had been hoping to meet listee Doug from Rapid City (we had exchanged e-mails about the confusion regarding the name of the venue) and was quite surprised to discover that I had ended up sitting right next to him. 

RT appeared right on schedule. He was given a loud welcome by the small (200-300) but enthusiastic crowd and gave us a big smile, looking pleased. He said it was his first visit to South Dakota. I wondered what it would be like. (pause for effect) It's bloody freezing!

He smiled again, took a moment to compose himself and began the set:

King of Bohemia (wife: What's this one? me: The one I can never remember the name of.)
Inside On the Outside
Alexander Graham Bell 
Genesis Hall
Crawl Back (even more vehement than I remembered, it took RT a few moments to come back to us)
Bon Tempo (somewhat out of tune according to Andrea, due to the cold?)
Oops (a real crowd pleaser again at this show)
Happy Days & Auld Lang Syne
Ghost of You Walks
Turning of the Tide
Withered & Died 
She Twists The Knife Again (along with CB and VBL, the most scintillating guitar work of the evening)
Dimming of the Day (standing ovation, the crowd rose almost as one)

First Encore
Wall Of Death
Word Unspoken, Sight Unseen 

Second Encore
Beeswing (I don't generally care for this, but it sounded great tonight.)

I had some hopes of getting the set list after the show, but the guardian of the stage said he had been told to protect it. 

We had brought a present for RT (It was a piece of Thomsonite from the North Shore of Lake Superior, set in a pin. Any geologists out there? ) so while I headed for the men's room, Andrea went to ask Simon if RT would be coming out. They had a nice chat and though he wasn't sure if Richard would make himself available, Simon told her where to wait in case he did.

While we stood waiting, Simon came by again. Perhaps influenced by how cute Andrea looked in her Beesweb shirt and bee earrings, he asked if we would like the set list. No hesitation on that one!

Richard appeared shortly thereafter and seemed genuinely pleased with our gift. Don't know if he'll actually wear it, but if you see a small green and pink stone that looks like an eye it's the Thomsonite. After he signed the set list, we wished him the best and he gave Andrea a kiss on the cheek. Had I not been holding on to her, she might well have floated away!

"Music is the air I breathe" Sleater-Kinney

Folk-rocker Thompsonís
song, guitar, voice are a triple treat

Tell a friend that on Friday night you paid $30 to hear an English folk-rocker sing a 16th-century Italian tune, a tribute to telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell and a moving cover of Britney Spears' "Oops! . . . I Did It Again" - and absolutely loved it, and just see what sort of reaction you get.

Your friend might reply, "So, are you hard up for plans next weekend, too?

No, really. I could manage to take you out to dinner or something."

Such is the wonder of Richard Thompson in concert that those three curious songs not only made sense within the context of his riveting two hours alone on stage in the Hotel Fort Des Moines' Grand Ballroom, but that his killer chops made most other folk singers seem like squawking hacks who fumble with toy guitars.

Thompson's acoustic fingerpicking sounded like the work of at least two guitarists, what with his chugging bass strings and bright melodies dancing atop them.

In folk music it's all too common to stumble upon a sharp songwriter who lacks real charisma on stage, or a gregarious showman whose rudimentary strumming and yowling would fit better in punk rock, or an absolute guitar shredder whose songwriting is puddle-deep when what you're really longing for is a dip in a vast, dark sea.

Thompson is the whole, glorious deal - a charming triple treat of song, guitar and voice.

A crowd of about 450 people crammed the ballroom to hear this man in a black beret who 35 years ago co-founded the seminal folk-rock group Fairport Convention, became a critically acclaimed duo in 1974 with then-wife Linda Thompson, and for the last 20 years has shown no signs of falling off on his own.

Meanwhile on Friday, the tux-and-gown set partied just down the hall to celebrate Gov. Tom Vilsack's inauguration.

Thompson releases a new solo album in April, "The Old Kit Bag," and from it he pulled the first song of the night, the haunting Gethsemane.

Its lyrics were full of tombstones and sacraments, but a couple songs later he was getting all lighthearted and romantic with "Cooksferry Queen" from 1999's "Mock Tudor."

The aforementioned 16th-century Italian tune and the Spears cover were the bookends to a three-song mini-set sampling "1,000 Years of Popular Music," an irreverent historical project also on the way from Thompson.

The middle song was the best: a rich and flowing version of the circa 1800-vintage "Oh, Shenandoah."

Thompson sampled generously from his back catalog while still favoring the recent past. (At least four songs from "The Old Kit Bag" were previewed.)

There was room for the Fairport Convention chestnut "Now Be Thankful" as well as a hilarious children's song by Thompson about Ancient Egypt, featuring the chorus: "Now my daddy is a mummy/ He's inside a pyramid."

There were two encores, the second which delivered a double punch of "Wall of Death" and "I Misunderstood."

As one fan sitting nearby summed up Thompson: "For a guy who writes lyrics about being suicidal, he's a lot of fun."

I"m not sure that description will convince any of your friends that a Friday night with Thompson was well spent, either.

You'll just have to drag them along the next time he swings through.

Register Music Critic

... the Des Moines Register's review of RT's appearance. ó Kelly Knauer

Here is the setlist

(as best as I can remember with help from Shelly's Larry setlist) for the Omaha show at the Music Box (RT's FIRST, and hopefully not last, show in Nebraska!):

How Will I Ever Be Simple Again
King of Bohemia
Cooksferry Queen
Outside of the Inside
Alexander Graham Bell (very entertaining new kid's song)
Genesis Hall
So Ben Mi Ca Bon Tempo
Shenandoah (actually done along the banks of the wide Missouri!)
Oops, I Did it Again
1952 Vincent Black Lightening
Crawl Back
Ghost of You Walks
Turning of the Tide
She Twists the Knife Again
Dimming of the Day
Wall of Death
Sight Unseen
Bright Lights(!)
I Misunderstood

Dave Hughes

Hi All....

Richard Thompson performed last night at The Met theater here in Spokane, Washington.  Excellent show, as always.  The Met is an old theater, built in 1915, I believe.  Seating capacity of 750, and it was almost sold out, it looked like.  Richard took the stage a little past 7:30, and the show lasted a little over two hours.

Richard was of course attired in the usual black beret, black leather pants, and a black shirt with sort of a camouflage pattern to it, for lack of a better description.....for those of you that care about those things.  CD's were on sale in the lobby, but RT did not come out to sign any or meet the fans.  A couple of us were able to hang around the stage and say hello to Richard later.  I was able to sneak a couple pictures, but I don't have a website to post them to right at the moment.  I'll see if I can arrange to get them posted somehow in the next day or two.

Set list as follows:

King of Bohemia
Crawl Back
Message on the Wind (?)  Is that the right name for this...?
Alexander Graham Bell
Genesis Hall (A surprise for me, haven't heard this one in a while)
Cooksferry Queen
The usual 3 songs from the 1000 years of popular music
1952 VBL
The Ghost of You Walks
Destiny (?)  New one....very good
How Will I Ever Be Simple Again
Turning of the Tide
Pharaoh (Anyone ever notice it's misspelled on Celtschmerz?)
She Twists the Knife Again
Dimming of the Day

1st encore
Wall of Death
Word Unspoken (?)

2nd encore
I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
I Misunderstood

So a rather good selection of tunes, good mix of old and new.  It seems like every time I see RT in concert, I always end up saying that this was my favorite show of his, and this would be no exception.  Despite the cold and the long trip from Montana, Richard was in fine form, both musically and in the humor department. 

I will say however, that once or twice it seemed that the shouted requests seemed to annoy him a bit, but I don't blame him for that.  Another thing I noticed more so with this show as compared to others I've been to; and I don't know if its ever been discussed here before; but I did want to comment on RT's guitar playing, specifically the ending of the songs.  Often times what happens is that the audience starts applauding before he has actually finished.  I noticed last night, probably mostly due to my front row seat, is that Richard often does some very interesting things, musically, at the end of the songs.  I don't think I've ever seen a performer put so much thought into the END of the song, if you see what I mean.  As an example, don't recall now which song it was, but at the end, audience starts to clap, RT's still playing and he did this fantastic little tapping on the fretboard/harmonic thingy....sorry to use these technical terms.  Well, to me it was pretty cool anyway, just wanted to get that in.  Wanted to mention also that it was great to see Pam Winters at the show, and I'm jealous that I won't be able to get to the show in Eugene on Saturday.  Looking forward to the band tour in few months.

That's it for now,

Chris Warren
Spokane, Washington  USA

Solo acoustic
McDonald Theater
Eugene, Oregon
Jan. 25, 2003

It was another superb show, RT's first appearance at the McDonald, an old and semi-grand movie house in downtown Eugene that has been renovated into a performance space. It holds about 800 and was nearly full.

I saw many familiar faces from previous Portland shows. RT had played in Eugene before, once at the outdoor Cuthbert Amphitheater in the mid-90s, and a couple of times at what's known locally as the WOW Hall, for Woodmen of the World, an old union hall that's now formally known as the Eugene Center for the Performing Arts. One of our party, Steve, my wife's boss's husband, saw RT there on the Small Town Romance tour. But I digress.

I had the delight of meeting stalwart listmember Pam, who flew out for the Spokane and Eugene shows and worked in some other writerly type assignments while in the Northwest. It's good to be able to support one's habit somewhat, I suppose. She, Steve, Debra and I had a nice Central American dinner at Hilda's, and Pam dossed at our home. We sent her off to an interview in Portland after a breakfast of gingerbread waffles and cranberry applesauce.

It was pretty much the same setlist RT has been using for the rest of this brief tour through the hinterlands, with one addition. Pam had spoken to him after the Spokane show and reminded him that Saturday was Burns Night. So about midway through the set, he gave us a beautiful rendition of Burns Supper (from the Nude side of You?Me?Us?), one which has not been performed very much, as far as I know. He told us in the introduction of the song that it was inspired by his father, who was a Scottish-born policeman and quite enamored of Burns.

He also played Beeswing and Galway to Graceland, apparently in response to shouted requests, of which there were many, including Sloth, when he mentioned Fairport ("18 minutes, I don't think so"), but no Lynyrd Skynyrd or Led Zeppelin songs. One guy did call out for "It won't be long" instead of Oops. Oh, and the guy next to Debra said "tell us about Madonna's wedding," to which OH replied, as nicely as possible, that it was "old news by now."

The whole performance was almost exactly two hours, including the encores. The opening act cancelled due to illness, so the show started with RT at 8:30 instead of the announced time of 8 p.m.

The setlist:

King of Bohemia
Cooksferry Queen
Alexander Graham Bell
Genesis Hall
Crawl Back
Bon Tempo
Burns Supper
Ghost of You Walks
Turning of the Tide
She Twists the Knife Again
Dimming of the Day

Encore 1
Wall of Death
Sight Unseen

Encore 2
Bright Lights
Galway to Graceland
I Misunderstood

The guitar playing was very intense and focused, but there were a few flubbed lyrics, which is only to be expected in a two-hour solo show. So now it's home for a short rest before heading to Europe for the band tour in support of TOKB. You lucky fans "over there!"

Gary Whitehouse

Gary wrote, alluding to his wife:

Oh, and the guy next to Debra said "tell us about Madonna's wedding," to which OH replied, as nicely as possible, that it was "old  news by now."

Weren't you the guy next to Debra?? :^) I just got home on the red-eye not long ago. Nice, except for the part where I thought I was gonna die. But I digress.

Shouted requests were a big part of both the Spokane and Eugene shows. For whatever reason, the folks out there don't seem to have the timing we East Coasters do when it comes to this sort of thing--and a couple of them were very persistent. You know, RT would be tuning up for the next song, and someone would yell something, and he'd then go after it! He was very obliging. I wonder whether he wasn't/isn't excessively obliging. (Not that I didn't benefit from his accommodating nature, having scored a "Burns Supper" m'self.)

At which show did someone keep yelling "Head in a Sack!"? Eugene, I think. Wonderful to see Chris Warren in Spokane and Gary (and co.) in Albany (at last we see each other face to face!). And as always, Richard and his pal Simon.

Pam (Must Sleeeeep Now)