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Richard Thompson, 6/30

Richard Thompson’s one of the most depressing lyricists in the world. He’s also one of the artists I admire the most for his skill. In retrospect, a bit of emotion on my part could have been expected, since Susan and I saw him five days after we found out about the Benoit tragedy.

I teared up hard during the first song. You’ve got a viewpoint character singing about bad relationships, you’ve got guitar playing that echoes through the minor keys and embraces atonal harmony as a metaphor for futile rage, and somewhere in there Thompson’s voice has become just about as effective an instrument as his guitar. I think it was cathartic: despite what the world’s lost, life goes on, and talent goes on, and there’s aught yet to admire.

It’d been a while since I’d seen him live; the last time must have been seven or eight years ago. He’s really been pushing his singing skills. He’s more resonant and less gruff than he was back in the 80s by far.

So, yeah: a great concert. Lots of cuts from Sweet Warrior, plus enough older stuff. “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me” is a brutally despairing anti-war song that’d get much more attention in any sane world; and his solo acoustic “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” — bass line plus solos simultaneously, of course — was deeply gratifying. But it was all good.

You can hear the whole concert here. That’s from the DC date of the current tour.

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