Axe In The Anvil
March 9, 2013
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To the Anvil in Basingstoke to pay our annual homage to the greatest living British guitarist, Richard Thompson.
I have followed his career since he was a leading protagonist of the nascent British folk-rock movement with Fairport Convention in the late sixties. Tonight, as with his latest album, Electric (vide infra) which this tour is designed ostensibly to promote, he appeared with a pared down band in front of a sell-out crowd, accompanied by Taras Prodaniuk on bass and Michael Jerome on drums.
Sound quality was excellent, allowing the listener (even those of us who have survived a diet of aural assaults in the seventies) to easily pick out each instrument and the vocals. My songs are either about psychopaths or murderers, Thompson joked, – not quite true, but while his songs often explore the darker and grittier side of human existence, his performance was uplifting and the outstanding rhythm section gave him a solid base upon which to demonstrate his guitar pyrotechnics.
The show was a mix of new stuff from the album – the show starts off with a stunning trio Stuck On The Treadmill, Sally B and Salford Sunday (surely destined to be one of his classics) – and old favourites including a moving For Shame of Doing Wrong and a blistering Can’t Win from his extensive back catalogue as well as a welcome airing for some of his more obscurer numbers such as Persuasion. But Thompson is also prone to throw in the odd surprise, producing a fresh take on Hendrix’s Hey Joe – just to prove the band really was a power trio. The only solo numbers were a trio at the start of his six number encore, including a marvellous Poor Ditching Boy. The evening ended with Stony Ground and an audience sing-a-long with the finale, Tear Stained Letter. Truly outstanding.
There was a support act, Robert Ellis, to kick the evening off with a brief set of country-influenced songs and manfully fighting head cold but the audience was here for only one thing – the main man!
A great way to end off the week and for once Basingstoke rocked!