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Photo Credit: Tony Paris for CL

Richard Thompson at the Variety Playhouse, December 1, 2018


Guitarist Richard Thompson performed with his Electric Trio at the Variety Playhouse Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. Thompson has performed in Atlanta countless times, first as a member of the traditional British folk rock group Fairport Convention, though mostly as leader of bands he’s put together during his long and varied solo career. In all that time, he’s never given a bad performance in this city. How many musicians can you say that about? Exactly. You can count them on one hand. Maybe one finger. - Tony Paris

12.01.18 Show Review

When the Electric Trio — Thompson, bassist Taras Prodaniuk and drummer Michael Jerome — took the Variety stage, it was obvious this was not to be an ordinary Richard Thompson show. No. This was something special.

They kicked off the set with “Bones of Gilead,” followed by “Her Love was Meant for Me,” two songs off of Thompson’s powerful new album, 13 Rivers. From the moment he strapped on his Fender Stratocaster, Thompson exhibited a dazzling display of guitar work, even for someone as accomplished as himself, and the band, in high gear from the start, never let up.

In the power trio format, no member of the band can afford not to hold their own. A trio can be devastating — or, fall flat, if the three musicians aren’t in sync — playing off each other while propelling each other. Saturday night, Thompson, Prodaniuk, and Jerome destroyed any preconceived notions of how good a Richard Thompson show can be. When Thompson was onstage alone, to sing a crowd favorite like “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” he crushed versions he’s played in Atlanta before. Even the idea of the trio was stretched. For many songs, the group was joined by Bobby Eichorn from the crew on guitar, adding appropriate fills while not getting in the way.

Throughout the evening Thompson assured those in the audience he’d get to his older, more familiar songs they’d come to hear after performing material from the 13 Rivers. But no one expected just how far back he would go, pulling out songs he’d written for Fairport Convention in 1968, “Tale in Hard Time” and "Meet on the Ledge." The guitarist appeared to enjoy playing up the nostalgia of having written songs fifty years ago that still stand the test of time, but the concert was no career retrospective. Other than a couple of songs recorded with ex-wife Linda Thompson, “Dimming of the Day” (1975) and “Wall of Death” (1982), Thompson drew primarily from the ‘90s forward, though “Can’t Win,” (1988) was a tremendous treat.

That, too, was part of what made the Variety show so special. Instead of playing favorites, old stand-stand-by and familiar tunes — the one’s he’s played over and over and over — Thompson focused more on deep cuts and new material. In doing so, he played to no one’s expectations other than his own, allowing himself a freedom manifested in some of his best guitar playing ever. At 69 years old, he was playing with the fire and intensity of someone half his age, not with the wild abandon of youth, but the confidence and feel of someone in control of every note he wrenched out of his guitar.

It was an amazing show. Absolutely. - Tony Paris

 

CL Stories about Richard Thompson in Atlanta

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Friday April 29, 2016 09:00 AM EDT
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Wednesday April 27, 2016 01:02 PM EDT
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Monday April 18, 2016 01:26 PM EDT
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Thursday March 31, 2016 04:00 AM EDT
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Monday March 14, 2016 10:21 AM EDT
Plus, where is Richard Simmons? Serious question. | more...

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Tuesday March 1, 2016 09:48 AM EST
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Comedy

Monday February 15, 2016 11:14 AM EST
Comedian Olivia Cathcart singles out the top comedy events in the ATL this week including Drop-Up Video/Picture Show featuring Dave Ross, WonderComedy, Creed Bratton, and more. | more...

Music Features

Thursday February 11, 2016 04:00 AM EST
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Thursday February 4, 2016 09:22 AM EST
Plus, 500 pounds of marijuana found in a single U-Haul in Lawrenceville area. | more...

The A List

Friday January 22, 2016 10:35 AM EST
A weekend roundup of all the music you don't want to miss. | more...

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Friday January 15, 2016 11:16 AM EST
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Sunday January 10, 2016 09:47 AM EST
Plus, El Chapo meets Sean Penn and his 'minor traveler's flatulence' | more...

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Friday January 8, 2016 09:20 AM EST
Plus, DeKalb DA will seek murder charges against officer who shot Anthony Hill | more...

Arts Agenda

Thursday January 7, 2016 10:45 AM EST
Plus, <i>Creative Loafing</i> and Write Club Atlanta team up to celebrate the 2016 Fiction Contest winners. | more...

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Wednesday January 6, 2016 09:01 AM EST
Plus, Invest Atlanta CEO is out, the president takes executive action on guns, and Killer Mike on Colbert | more...

Music Features

Wednesday January 6, 2016 04:00 AM EST
Nightlife institution moves south of I-20 | more...

Visual Arts , Arts Agenda, Atlanta Artists

Tuesday January 5, 2016 11:19 AM EST
Zipporah Thompson investigates self and black identity with a new show at Whitespec. | more...

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Tuesday November 3, 2015 07:58 AM EST
Plus, Buckhead squatter just wants to start a bed and breakfast, that's all | more...

Crib Notes

Tuesday October 20, 2015 03:18 PM EDT

http://www.papermag.com/2015/10/grimes_released_the_art_for_he.php

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>> Last Night on Late Night: ‏@AnimalInPics retweeter Ryan Adams covered Taylor Swift's "Welcome To New York" on Kimmel, Officer of the Order of the British Empire Richard Thompson did "All Buttoned Up" (good advice) and web exclusive...

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Crib Notes

Monday October 19, 2015 03:07 PM EDT

http://www.xxlmag.com/news/2015/10/today-in-hip-hop-black-moon-drop-enta-da-stage/

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>> Tonight on Late Night: Kimmel has Pax Am chief and Tay-Tay interviewer Ryan Adams, Conan has centerfielder John Fogerty and Richard Thompson, Fallon is a rerun with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Colbert is a rerun (already?) with the...

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Crib Notes

Thursday October 8, 2015 02:36 PM EDT

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Crib Notes

Thursday August 27, 2015 03:28 PM EDT

http://https://twitter.com/fettywap/status/636692499499732992

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>> Last Night on Late Night: Miley Cyrus went undercover, talked boobs, and Andy Grammar did "Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah)" and "Honey I'm Good" on Kimmel, Lupe Fiasco did...

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Restaurant News

Thursday August 27, 2015 01:08 PM EDT
The longtime Atlanta chef plans to open Richard's Southern Fried early next year | more...

 

Shows Featuring Richard Thompson in Atlanta