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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

Food and Drink

Wednesday December 26, 2007 09:06 PM EST

image-1Atlanta's most migratory and eccentric chef, Richard Blais, has landed at Elevation Chophouse, presumably with his tank of liquid nitrogen, as a consultant or chef ... or something. I received this kind of haiku-esque e-mail recently:

Richard Blais offering tasting menu to celebrate the New Year.

Richard Blais is offering a 7-course tasting to ring in the new year.


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Album Reviews

Wednesday December 12, 2007 12:04 AM EST
Lonely Just Like Me: The Final Chapter | more...

Music Features, People

Wednesday December 5, 2007 12:04 AM EST
A.P.A. guitarist gets his s-i-p on | more...

Hollywood Product

Wednesday December 5, 2007 12:04 AM EST
Fantasy adaptation is charming and clunky | more...

Food and Drink

Monday November 5, 2007 03:00 PM EST
It has been rumored for weeks that Atlanta's most notorious molecular-gastronomist Richard Blais had dropped off the face of the earth because he was filming the latest season of Bravo's “Top Chef” — as a contestant. While this has never been confirmed by Blais or anyone else, it seems that the theory became more viable this week when Blais showed up back in... | more...

Theater Review

Wednesday October 17, 2007 12:04 AM EDT
Richard III, Comparing Books revel in villainy | more...

Album Reviews

Wednesday October 10, 2007 12:04 AM EDT
Wattstax | more...

Food and Drink

Monday October 8, 2007 08:30 PM EDT

I went out of town last week, after just having spotted the blokes from Element at Wine South, and came back to find that the restaurant had closed. WTF?

Element, which took on the name "Element Gastro Lounge" after Richard Blais took over the kitchen this past spring, was one of the most innovative and interesting restaurants in the city. Blais' micro-gastronomy was often thrilling to...

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Album Reviews

Wednesday August 22, 2007 12:04 AM EDT
Vee-Jay: The Definitive Collection | more...

Food and Drink

Monday July 23, 2007 03:01 PM EDT

image-1You never know where you're going to run into a good chef indulging bad taste. A few years ago, for example, I saw a well known Hispanic chef at the window of a Taco Bell. (Hey, I was just driving by!) I've seen another buying his restaurant's bread at Publix. I know a particularly brilliant chef who lived for years on Domino's pizza.

But, oh no, not this! I caught Richard Blais of...

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Restaurant Review

Wednesday July 18, 2007 12:04 AM EDT
Richard Blais returns to Midtown | more...

Movies & TV Features

Wednesday July 4, 2007 12:04 AM EDT
Richard Schickel gives Steven Spielberg his due | more...

Food and Drink

Wednesday May 30, 2007 06:30 PM EDT
image-1I've confirmed with my own palate Besha Rodell's report that Richard Blais has indeed returned to Atlanta and is cooking at Element, in the old Cherry location on West Peachtree Street. I'll be reporting in next week's paper about my experience. I reviewed Element about a month ago, before Blais arrived. It's the first time in more than 20 years of writing Grazing that I've returned to... | more...

Food and Drink

Friday May 18, 2007 06:04 PM EDT
Last week I heard a rumor that Richard Blais — the much-lauded chef, known for his micro-gastronomic tendencies, who left Atlanta last year for the warmer shores of Miami — would be taking over the kitchen at Element. Element is the newish Midtown small-plates restaurant that Cliff Bostock reviewed a few weeks ago. I knew that Blais was back in town, but this seemed like... | more...

Theater Review

Wednesday May 2, 2007 12:04 AM EDT
The fate of the printed word hangs in the balance | more...

People, Art Museums

Wednesday April 11, 2007 12:04 AM EDT
New director of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center | more...

Arts Agenda, People, Murals/Graffiti, Urban Design

Wednesday April 4, 2007 12:04 AM EDT
Director of design/executive director of Chicago's Millennium Park | more...

Movie Review

Wednesday January 10, 2007 12:04 AM EST
Notes on a Scandal serves up a slick catfight | more...


Shows Featuring Richard Thompson in Atlanta