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May 16, 2004

Dream Gig

We went to see Richard Thompson at the refurbished Hackney Empire, supported by Jim Moray, who described the experience as "Like playing in a Fabergé egg". We took with us a long-standing RT-lover, and Flick, a fellow Jim Moray groupie who knows RT not at all.

We arrived at the concert about 30 seconds before it started, thanks to a really nice dinner at the Green Papaya, a little further down Mare Street. I'd actually planned this in advance for once, haunted by the memory of previous long walks up and down Mare Street in search of restaurants. Yummy Vietnamese food, in a nice conservatory by the open door to the courtyard; there are tables outside, but despite the lovely weather it seemed a little stretching to eat outdoors in May.

Jim did 6 songs (such is the life of a support artist) -- which worked out at about £3 each for Flick, who at one point was threatening to not stay for Richard Thompson. Since last summer he appears to have come to an accommodation with himself about the extent to which he replicates his recorded sound. No PowerBook on stage therefore, and relatively stripped down, though still rocky and powerful, versions of the traditional songs. I did wonder whether people who hadn't otherwise heard his stuff would quite get the point. Set list: Poverty Knock, Lord Bateman, Fair Sally, Gypsies, Longing for Lucy, Two Sisters. Oddly, he didn't play the new single, Sprig of Thyme, or the other new track from the single CD. But I did get to buy the single, and a lovely Jim Moray tshirt, which I'll be wearing to see Steeleye Span tonight.

After plying Flick with G&T she happily settled down to a new experience "he's wearing a beret, Good God What Have You Brought Me To?" I enjoy watching Thompson solo and with a band, but I can never quite see the point of the band. And for once we had no dodgy family members, though Christine Collister joined him at the end for a few tracks, which Steven correctly pegged as an anticlimax. Acoustics in the new HE are mixed, though to be fair we were at the side of the dress circle rather than (say) in the middle of the stalls, which is where we'd have been if we'd got our act together and bought tickets as soon as we knew they were available.

Thompson punctuated the gig with (mercifully brief) renditions of traditional versions of past Eurovision winners, to help us cope with the grief of missing the Eurovision Song Contest.

He kicked off with two newish songs -- "Watch Me Go" and "Boys of Mutton Street". New to me, anyway. There were a couple of other songs that were new to me; "Alexander Graham Bell" and "Should I Betray You".

"Alexander Graham Bell" really freaked me out; I now know two funny songs whose first line is AGB, and I'm not sure the world has enough room for two. Because both songs take their tempo from the name, they're quite similar in lots of ways too, though the other, Huw & Tony Williams' Morse Code Song is actually singing the praises of Samuel Morse rather than AGB.

He asked us to send goodwill messages to Dave Swarbrick, who's still under the weather, before playing Crazy Man Michael, allegedly for the first time.

Overall it was a nicely paced set, lots of stuff we haven't heard for a while, or things played differently to usual, as well as some new songs.

Set List: Watch Me Go, Boys of Mutton Street, Outside of the Inside, Cooks Ferry Queen, Crazy Man Michael, Crawl Back, A Love You Can't Survive, Gethsemane, Vincent Black Lightning, Persuasion, Alexander Graham Bell, Should I Betray You (?), Hokey Pokey, Cold Kisses, For Shame of Doing Wrong, How Will I Ever Be Simple Again, Sibella, King of Bohemia, Feel So Good, Beeswing, Ghosts in the Wind, Wall of Death, A Heart Needs a Home.

Posted by Alison at May 16, 2004 02:30 PM


> he's wearing a beret

It's traditional to shout "Take yer hat off" a few times on first noticing this. So far, it has never been known to work, but is an excellent tool for being pummelled by other members of the audience.

Posted by: David Elworthy at May 16, 2004 07:31 PM

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