Read Write

Making the world smile, one muscle at a time

Richard Thompson at St David’s Hall, Cardiff

by Marrick on January 23, 2011

If Mark Knopfler could write songs like Bob Dylan and had a half decent singing voice, he would be Richard Thompson. If there were any justice, Thompson would be a superstar and if I ever go to a better concert than this, then it will be the day after Wales beat the All Blacks… in New Zealand… with 14 players left on the park, all of them under the age of 18. 

From the opening refrain of The Money Shuffle, a critical look at the "Finance Industry", to the closing echoes of If Love Whispers Your Name, Thompson contrived to entertain in the only way he knows: by playing good songs, very well, engaging with the audience and encouraging the musicians with whom he surrounds himself to display the full array of their talents. 

The ease with which Richard Thompson goes about his appointed task belies the quality of his endeavours. In every note, every harmony and every composition is a strength of purpose that speaks volumes about the man and his art. Thompson's appearance at St David's hall was like a huge love fest; the audience loved him and he loved them back. He was amongst friends: woolie jumpers, beards and straggly grey hair abounded – and the men were just as bad. They came to see a legend, a genuine guitar hero, who dances to the rhythm of English folk rather than the beat of a southern slaver's drum, a man who cut his teeth in Fairport Convention, went on to have a semi-successful career in the husband and wife combo Richard and Linda Thompson, but now stomps the boards as his own front man. 

And what art it is. The entertainment industry is full of witless, polycarbonate constructs of a Svengali's balance sheet, but fortunately Thompson is the counterpoint to all this, providing songs that thrill the mind and the heart with well chosen words and soaring music. He is, quite simply, a national treasure.

His in-between song patter was warm and inviting and the audience responded with equally warm laughter and applause. This was a man at ease with his art – a musician's musician, who has the ability to touch the emotions of thoughtful fans. I was won over by the third song and my erstwhile grumpiness at wasting a Sunday evening listening to an ageing folkie disappeared completely. 

He divided the set into two – the first half being the new album "Dream Attic" almost in its entirety – a brave choice on the surface of things, but as it turned out, the correct one. Then in the second half, we were treated to the old standards.

He kept us entertained from 7.30 until 10:15 when the last of his three encore songs finished. Few artists could accomplish that, even if they had the back catalogue.  If you get the chance – go to one of his current tour concerts, buy his new album (it was recorded live) and get a glimpse of that rarest of commodities; a musical diamond.

10 thoughts on “Richard Thompson at St David’s Hall, Cardiff

  1. Chefellwood says:

    Nice review of a fantastic gig. Just a minor point – he played most, but not all, of the Dream Attic album.

  2. boris says:

    were you at the same concert as me? because he didnt do 3 encores and he didnt do dream attic in its entirety. but who cares IT WAS FANTASTIC.

  3. Mike Kellett says:

    Good gig but sound quality – as usual for St David’s – was awful. Very muddy – sorry, no offence to the sound engineer, every amplified band suffers.nRichard – next time you come to Cardiff, please play anywhere except St. David’s Hall.

  4. Simon Duffy says:

    St Davids is an appalling place for amplified music… but this didn’t distract from the outstanding quality of the music on stage. This is the 6 time I have seen Thompson live, the first ‘with band’ since ’87…nThe man’s total mastery of the guitar and of the craft of songwriting is unsurpassed. Amazing evening.

  5. Pingback: Tweets that mention Richard Thompson at St David

  6. Anonymous says:

    The Beetle in the Bay lacks the intimacy of St David’s Hall. Bad sound or not, Thompson rocked.

  7. Jerry Stone says:

    Richard was superb, as ever. I’ve seen RT many times live and this one was right up there among the best, which is saying a lot. I swear that his solo in ‘You Can’t Win’ actually surpassed the one on the ‘Watching The Dark’ box set, which is actually my all time favourite recorded solo…by anyone. I agree that St. David’s Hall is a rubbish venue sound-wise. Still, it barely interfered with such supreme playing from Richard and the whole band. Just wish it could have gone on all night because a two and half hours cannot do justice to such an awesome back catalogue.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: