Richard Thompson, GRCH, 27th Jan, Act #07

 It’s Celtic Connections at The Concert Hall, so once again I meet Big Chris, this time sans wee bro’, in The Station Bar. We are joined by his friends from Ferryhill who despite living there and drinking in The Blue Lamp, quite amazingly, do not know Professor Poinky. Off to the gig where we meet my good friend Billy Bones. An ageing crowd reminds us all how long Richard has been plying his trade. One poor wanker/wannabee even sports a black beret, in the Thomson stylee!

Entering the hall we are confronted by a number of video cameras intent on capturing all the action for the BBC.It occurs to me that in all my years of this stuff, I’ve never actually been at one being filmed.

A cone of white light stabs the stage and into that cone walks a corpse. If not a corpse, then someone that at least has been on the business end of a morgul-blade! A familiar voice emanates from the PA and I realise that Mister Death Warmed-Up is actually Bob Harris, Rolf’s younger brother who used to host TOGWT.

Time was when bands used to tour material, in order to lick it into shape, before going into the studio for recording. Bootlegging has put paid to all that, these days. However with this tour, Richard Thompson has somewhat bucked the trend. Touring the USA and nightly playing a whole set of unrecorded tunes before finally recording them live certainly takes what some of us call ’cohones’.The resulting album Dream Attic takes up the first half of the set and it’s all rather fine indeed. I always think Thompson solos more like a horn player than a guitarist, more Coltrane than Clapton.The two lengthy solos before the interval are so good I’m not sure what he can pull out the hat (or beret) after the break.

Mr Bones, meanwhile, has had to nip out to pee and takes advantage of encountering an empty bar to buy the interval drinks, unaware that Shields is once again designated Driver. We arrive at the bar to discover he’s doubled up the round, so it’s Two pints of Guinness for yours truly and Two G&Ts for the non-drinking driver. Aware that there are sober children in Third World countries, I do the decent thing and neck them all.

Set #2 is a run through of better known, as well as some quite obscure, older material.Billy B claims, to my amazement, to never having heard Al Bowlly’s in Heaven. It never quite reaches the heights of the stuff we experienced before the break, however this could well be down to having what appears to be Dick Van Dyke on sax and what is quite clearly Fabio Capello on bass.
Dick Van Dyke dressed as Acker Bilk while Fabio considers the wisdom of playing in 4-4-2 time.

Dick Van Dyke dressed as Acker Bilk while Fabio considers the wisdom of playing in 4-4-2 time.

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