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- ▼ 2008 (40)
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Richard Thompson @ Bluesfest
Saturday July 5th - went to the Ottawa Bluesfest at Lebreton Flats outside the Canadian War Museum. Great site and an intercoursingly well-organized festival (in spite of the huge crowds).
The main reason we went was to see Richard Thompson. We also made a point of seeing Michael Burt (da bloos...reel niiice), Luke Doucet (kind of rock, very good), Angelique Kudjo (African dance music - amazing...I'm still jiggling!), Lucinda Williams (oh, she was crap...sorry but she should not have been there, couldn't stand it for more than the first couple of songs, not my cup of alt-c*ntry). We accidentally saw the Kruger Brothers (very nice bluegrass trio, strings only).
So after baling on Lucinda Williams (bleh!) we went to sit in front of the so-called Roots stage to wait for RT. A beautiful spot, with the river behind the stage and the sun going down over the water. The grassy hill formed by the roof of the War Museum rising up to form the auditorium..perfect weather. There were relatively few people to see him; about 500-600, compared to thousands at the folk festival four years ago or so. I guess the kind of people who go to a mainstream sort-of-blues festival will mostly want to see Steely Dan or the Zappa kid, who were headlining on other stages. All the more to our benefit, we were about 30 feet from the stage...purrfect!
Thompson's show was the best I have ever seen or heard him. Fortunately CBC radio will be putting the concert up on their website soon and broadcasting it on Aug 4th (I think). If you haven't heard his music, it may be an acquired taste for the bitter, sordid, LGW-side* of life. I know that after about 3-4 songs a number of people decided to leave and try their luck with the masses listening to Steely Dan. Too bad for them...
Richard Thompson is one of the best guitarists and singer-songwriters around**. Tonight he performed with just one guitar, dressed in his trademark black beret with gold star. He performed many new songs and many old songs with new interpretations - he wasn't just trying to make them sound like they used to in the studio many years ago. The crescent moon was going down in the sky behind the stage. Incidentally the last time we saw RT, at the Ottawa Folk Festival about 4-5 years ago, the crescent moon was sinking behind the stage then as well...)
The only downside was the immense noise coming from Zappa fils on another stage. It may have made RT play louder though - he said that a number of times.
Among the songs I remember that he performed:
From Mock Tudor (1999):
Bathsheba Smiles (ah now...that's sad) started with this one...spectacular
Cooksferry Queen (well not LGW, but strange love anyway)
Crawl Back (under my stone) (audience participation on this one)
From Rumour and Sigh (1991):
1952 Vincent Black Lightning (which is apparently the most-requested song ever on NPR, a folk song about dysfunctional youth, and a highwayman who happens to ride a motorcycle). This time he did some great new (to me) guitar work.
I feel so good (more dysfunctional youth, true crime and social commentary - "They put me in jail for my deviant ways...2 years, 7 months and 16 days...")
I misunderstood (more LGW)
From Across a Crowded Room (1985):
She twists the knife again (LGW to the max...aargh!)
From Daring Adventures (1986):
From I Want to see the Bright Lights Tonight (1974):
Down where the Drunkards Roll (life gone wrong...)
From Shoot Out the Lights (1982):
Shoot out the lights (Oh yes, more LGW)
Walking on a wire (goes without saying...)
Fom The Old Kit Bag (2003):
I'll Tag Along (more dysfunctional youth)
Not on any album I know about:
Got the hots for the smarts (comic ditty about preferring intelligence over beauty - "Are there any smart women in the audience?" "Yeah!!" "I mean really smart??" "YEAH!!" - "I want a girl who...thinks charm's a particle..." More audience participation.)
A couple of songs from his most recent album Sweet Warrior:
Dad's gonna kill me (about the Iraq war)
That's all I can remember until the recording is posted...
* - June Tabor used to joke that her music was pretty well always about LGW: "Love gone wrong".
**Apparently his guitar style is original and much-imitated. Something about the way he holds his er...pick...? Perhaps it's the tight jeans...
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