Richard Thompson
The Beacon
New York
November 9, 1999

RT's set at the Beacon

in NYC tonight was relatively short (75-80 min.) and ended promptly at 11:00, with the audience roaring its disapproval at not being granted a second encore. 

The set list:

Cooksferry Queen 
Bathsheba Smiles 
Two-Faced Love 
Hard on Me 
She Twists the Knife Again 
Al Bowlly's in Heaven 
I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight 
Wall of Death 
Tear Stained Letter
1952 Vincent Black Lightning

Wilco went on first; their set was almost as long as RT's, I believe. I simply can't break through to becoming a Wilco fan, no matter how hard I try; their melodies just don't make a dent in me. Maybe someone else can give a better review.

RT's show was exciting, despite its disappointing brevity. "She Twists the Knife Again" was the highlight for me, just because I love it and haven't heard it live in so long. Mike Jerome was doing a few too many fills in "Hard on Me" for my taste (I think he's acting up more than on the summer tour), but I still prefer his rock-out mode to that of Mattacks - Jerome at least suggests the beat, even at his most abandoned. RT's acoustic leads were among the evening's highlights: not only his ever-more-elaborate soloing on "Vincent," but some nice, imaginative work on "Al Bowlly." His patter was jokey and theatrical - best quip was his dismissal of a request: "We have to get through the crap first." - 

Dan Sallitt

I Traveled Far to See a Star

Oh, sun-swept mountain peak
Yon rocks look wee and merry
My pack is full of compact discs
All the Thompson I can carry.

My seat in venue is back row sad
My view is almost nill
I can almost see the stage up front
Mostly Jacks and Jills

Alas the sound is worn and buzzy
The heat is not turned on
The gum is sticking to my shoes
The usher's name is Juan.

The music is over, no encore
I feel a bit let down
But chances are I'll be right back
Next time Richard's in town!

( binkybonk  )

After a pleasant light

supper at the new cafe over the Fairway market across Broadway from the Beacon, Lise and I took our seats in the first row of the balcony, which I was quite happy with. A good value at $25.I knew Wilco by reputation only going in and I enjoyed them more on first exposure than I have many other bands in like circumstances. They started at 8:06 and with encores they played about 1:20, but in retrospect I wish they'd been much briefer for reasons which will become obvious. Then the expensive, and apparently incompetent union help (who are the cause of Beacon shows always ending precisely at 11 p.m., no matter what) took almost half an hour to make the simple change between Wilco's setup and the RTB's. As a result, Richard didn't start until exactly 9:45. It was a fine set, as far as it went, but it was over at 11. That's right, the opening act played longer than OH. As a result, we were deprived of hearing numerous songs played at other recent shows. At Keswick, for example, we are told they got Uninhabited Man, London Town, Long Miles, Crawl Back and Razor Dance among others. We didn't. This was the musical equivalent of coitus interruptus, and must have been even more frustrating in the $35 seats than where I was sitting, simultaneously delighted and tantalized. 

Everything that's been said about Mike Jerome is true. Pete Zorn made valuable contributions on the low register sax and flutes, and his sopranino sax contribution to Al Bowley almost worked. Teddy is a real asset and Persuasion shows him off to great advantage. For the first time I felt I could look forward to his solo album. (I had the sense of the show being cut to fit on the fly when Teddy went off after Persuasion as if he expected his dad to do a solo next, and then had to rush back on for the band number that followed instead.) Danny was superb as always. RT was sharp and the solos were powerful. In short, there was nothing wrong with this show, except that it was TOO SHORT!

I hung around outside the Beacon for 15 minutes afterward hoping for a spontaneous sidewalk listmeet that would allow me to express enthusiasm, blow off steam and commiserate, but no one I recognized appeared. So I went back across the street to Fairway and consoled myself with imported chocolate and some lox for tomorrow's breakfast.

I have a conflict on the 27th, but if I can work around it somehow (and I'm more motivated now), I'd like to try to make Tarrytown. Anyone know if tickets are still available and/or have that direct number handy?


Any idea what happened at the Beacon concert? 

Does the Beacon have an eleven o'clock curfew, or did the band simply feel like wrapping the show early? Compared to the set lists at other shows, the Beacon performance was, to put it mildly, truncated. Fine concert all around (and Wilco were a pleasant surprise), just a bit short, with only a one-song encore. I won't bother adding my two cents' worth of reviews to those who have already weighed in, except to say that "Persuasion" is a nice touch. RT did get off a nice line to a fan who interrupted him during the introduction of the band members: "Somewhere a village is missing its idiot." Not quite as damning as the lead singer for Wilco's "Are you smiling because it sucks to be you," but pretty good. 

I knew it.

We got the mini-set last night. 4 songs from MT, then a "greatest hits"  runthrough. The Beacon is heavily unionized, and any band who plays past 11 has to pay major bucks to the 47 stagehands, assuming they don't just pull the plug. Some observations:

Like Dan, I've never been able to warm up to Wilco. I bought their first two albums, played them a few times, and just filed them away. I don't know why they don't catch on with me; there's nothing I dislike about them. But I don't enjoy them. That being said, their set last night was...OK. I think I know why everyone has been knocked out by Michael Jerome's drumming. He's got his snare tuned to a much higher pitch than DM normally uses, so that, combined with his use of a couple of very small toms (piccolo toms? drummers, help me out here) he provides a sound that comes across better sonically than DM's. (I think it works particularly well with the acoustic bass.) He also pushes the beat a little more than DM, who tends to be dead center on top of it. Even though I thought he overplayed a little bit, he's still a damn fine drummer, and an excellent addition to the band.

"Jennie" should be done as a solo spot, or as a duet w/Teddy. Zorn's bass flute has got to go; it just pads out the arrangement with two lame solos. In fact, most of Zorn's woodwinds should be dumped. With the exception of the alto sax on "Tear-Stained Letter", I find them annoying. He's a great guy, and very versatile, but versatility is all he has. He's playing with RT & DT, two of the finest instrumentalists on the planet, and he just doesn't have the chops to keep up with them.

Teddy sang well, but his guitar contributions were barely audible. He also puts out less presence and energy than any performer I can remember seeing recently.

Isn't it great that a fellow who nearly died a couple of years back can be back among us, playing as well as ever! DT was in fine form last night. 

Allah be praised.

I've got a sneaking suspicion that OH has been hitting the gym lately. Definitely more presence in the shoulders & pecs. Other than that he was his usual deity-like self.

 Absolutely wonderful

Looking forward to Tarrytown (and a full set!)

Michael Bowen 

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. - 
Philip K. Dick

Well, let me first say that I'm a DM fan.

So, that tempers my impressions. Basically, DM is a very understated drummer. Something, like the drumming on "Shoot out the Lights" is incredibly hard to do (that sense of restraint & space). I remember talking to Sim Cain (a pro drummer friend of ours) about that & he said that he has to do "tricks" in his head to play really slow beats effectively (imagining triplets & such). Also, Dave does get great sounds, especially the snare - it really speaks -but it's a deep round sound. Very 'studio'.

Now MJ is a more "obvious" drummer. Not that he isn't good - he's really excellent. His style fit better on some songs than others. But he rarely anchored the beat, and at times, it seemed to me that everyone was "riffing" and no-one was anchoring. But, he's fun to watch - I dare say that people who never notice the drummer notice him! I would definitely use him on a project that called for an active, expressive drummer.

But, I prefer the strong understated drumming for RT. I think the band is still basically a showcase for his playing - and a strong rhythm section helps a lot. Not a criticism of DT either, we all know he's one of the best - but I also feel that the acoustic bass hurts the overall live sound. I noticed this time that he really cranked the high end - which helped. But it's just *impossible* in a rock setting (even in recordings - Greg goes crazy with this), to get the vertical bass to cut & fill the upper midrange (I always liken the sound to a kick drum - a front "tick" and then a really low thud - nothing in between).

My ideal (which ain't gonna happen) would be the RT band with DM on drums and Danny on Electric bass (oh - the heresy)! Or maybe one of those electric uprights. Either that, or keep it to small clubs where you can hear the bass in it's fullness.

BTW, those were just good old small tom-toms that MJ uses (drum workshop kit). It's easier to get a nice sound from smaller toms. DM used a small kit, last time, too (yamaha). I think he had a 20" bass drum and MJ had a fairly large bass drum (24" I'd guess), but small toms (and those bongos). He also uses less cymbals than DM (who is a master of cymbal playing, IMO). And played with brushes most of the time (using the metal end of the brushes to good effect).

pat ( )
who's view of the 
drummer was blocked 
at both shows ... damn

Just want to add

to Dan's and Moshe's notes on the Beacon show -First of all, I am more with Dan than Moshe on the subject of Wilco. I knew little about them and was prepared to enjoy their set in light of their generally good notices, but none of their songs made any impression on me. Their melodies seemed flat and undifferentiated. Maybe the best summing up was my friend Eric's: After they pulled the plug on Richard, he leaned over and said, "Why did they let Wilco play for four hours and give Richard only 15 minutes?"

Abbreviated as it was, RT's set was magnificent. I thought Mike Jerome's cymbal work in "Two Faced Love" was a highlight. "Hard On Me" lived up to expectations and more. Danny took a big solo during the second lead. Has he been doing this all along?

Richard seemed aware that a lot of the crowd was new to him, and he made an effort to keep them on his wavelength. He was more genial than usual, even apologizing after making the usual "village idiot missing" crack to a heckler. He carefully set up the story of "Al Bowlly", assuming that a lot of the crowd was too young to get it. Since he's avoiding the quirkier stuff like "Hamlet" or "Jimmy Shands" on this tour, it's more accessible and less "inside" than recent tours. And with Teddy on board, the harmonies are slicker, too.

But, even so, we wuz robbed. Only 12 songs, including the encore.

Mike McDonnell  

P.S. Simon was fuming at the management of the Beacon as we filed out of the theater. "We'll be having words", he promised. I imagine discussions rivaling one of RT's paint blistering solos on PITP. (Can you believe it? Only 12 songs, including the encore?)

The show was tremendous! 

I was at the McCarter show in Princeton last week, and though it was predictably excellent, it struck me as lacking in intensity and passion, as if it were a pre-tour warm-up gig, and I left with a vague sense of disappointment. The Beacon show, in spite of (or maybe because of) its brevity, was on a different level -- the whole band, RT in particular, just seemed more up for it. The other listmembers who have reviewed the show pretty much said it all and said it well, although I will note that I was particularly blown away by, among other things, RT's unbelievably strong singing, the solos on Hard on Me (much more incisive and intense than last time) and Two Faced Love (or "Toothless Love" as RT described it), Mike Jerome's work and the increasingly sophisticated guitar work on Al Bowlly. The new material really works live, and I've listened to Mock Tudor through new ears since seeing the shows.

Teddy was a bit less taciturn and seemed to watch every one of his old man's solos with rapt attention.

I wonder if the band had intended to play a full set and was told at some point that they would have to wrap up early -- Richard said he'd play "the crap" first and all the "hits" later, but most of the "hits" (When the Spell, I Feel So Good, A Heart Needs a Home and others that he played at Princeton) never arrived. 

I enjoyed the Wilco set, and they reproduced fairly faithfully some of the more ambitious songs from their last 2 very strong albums, but the band (mainly Jeff Tweedy) just seemed devoid of personality, maybe because they were the opening act and many seats were empty during their performance. Perhaps that's why he said to someone down in the front "are you smiling because your life sucks?" Nice. RT paid a couple of very gracious compliments to Wilco ("one of my favorite bands", "great set"), something you rarely see a headliner doing for an opening act. Jeff Tweedy mentioned that it was "scary" to open for RT, and that the only thing scarier was when Johnny Cash opened for them.

By the way, has RT been pumping iron? Sure looked like it.

Kirk Lipsey

More from the Beacon 

At one point during the Beacon show last night, while introducing Pete and all his saxophones, he said something like, "He's got them all, except the soprano. Kenny G has that one. [pause] Kenny G walks into an elevator and says, 'Hey, this place really rocks!'"

I've been reading posts that suggest that though the show was short, it more than made that up in intensity. While I haven't seen any other shows this tour (though I hope to get up to Tarrytown to see the other half of the set), I'm thinking there might be something to that. There really wasn't an off moment during the entire show, it truly was one fired-up performance.

And seconding Michael Bowen, Richard really did look buff in his black muscle tee.

Mike McDonnell

Dear Tudorettes...

Greetings from the road! I am posting this on behalf of Richard, the band and myself to put the record straight re the Beacon show.

The show was a co-headline with Wilco and Richard. Both bands were to play a 75 minute set. We had dispensation from the union chiefs and the promoter to begin the entire show 10 minutes late and to end 10 minutes overtime. Wilco hit the stage at 8.10pm and played for their allotted time - 75 mins. 

Richard hit the stage at 9.50pm and came off, after the first encore, at 10.59pm. As we were about to take the stage for the 2nd encore we were told that it had to finish at 11pm!! The lack of communication between the responsible parties (both from the union and the promoters) are now being dealt with and reprimanded. Yes, we were all furious as I know you guys were. We were as unhappy as you that we could not finish the show as planned. I know this does not remove the disappointment we all felt but we just wish to make clear that this happening was no fault of Wilco but purely due to the incompetence of certain "responsible adults" in control of the show.

I trust this post will clear this matter up. The situation was, we believe, inexcusable (and, as I mentioned, certain people are being severely reprimanded) and we are all VERY sorry it happened.

As always, we REALLY appreciate your support and energy. 

Best Wishes
Richard and Simon.