Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Richard Thompson's All Request Residency @City Winery, 2012
"If someone comes back to life and then dies, it's only because I got the verses mixed up."
"Donna Summer's 'Hot Stuff?' I'm not culturally equipped to sing those verses."
"This is one of my songs. Thanks for recognizing me."
Such is the stuff that made up night one of what I'm sure will be three very special Richard Thompson "all request" shows at NYC's City Winery.
It went like this:
Everyone got a small slip of paper that said something close to, "Dear Richard, would you kindly play this song for me?" There was space for you to jot down the one song you wanted to hear. (My request was "Who Knows Where the Time Goes." It did not get played.") The slips were collected and placed in a giant ice bucket on stage. RT would take 3-4 out at a time, explaining, "I need to pace the show, otherwise we might get 5 wrist-slashers in a row."
(I should say, almost everyone got a small slip of paper. A woman approached my table and asked if anyone had an extra. She hadn't been able to offer her request. It was Richard Thompson's wife, owner of McCabe's Guitar Shop in California. I wondered why she didn't just tell him what she wanted to hear, unless she wasn't requesting a song.)
And so it began.
Opening with The Kinks' "See My Friends," Thompson began night one of three audience-requested sets that also included covers of The Beatles' "I Feel Fine," Britney's "Oops, I Did It Again," which has become a Thompson staple, and Duke Ellington's "Rockin' In Rhythm," the latter of which seemed to amuse him. He told us that when he recorded "Rockin In Rhythm" he had overdubbed three guitars, four horns and percussion, so "thanks for choosing this while I have just one guitar." Then of course, he made that one acoustic guitar sound like three guitars, four horns and percussion, like no one but Richard Thompson can.
A killer "Crawl Back," with some of the most astounding fretwork I have ever seen in my life, a rousing "Tear-Stained Letter," a wrist-slashing "A Love You Can't Survive," one each from Fairport's "Liege & Lief" and "What We Did On Our Holidays," a jaw-dropping "Dimming Of The Day," and of course, thankfully for all in attendance, a flawless and always moving "Vincent Black Lightning" made for one satisfying set of music.
(There were easily another half dozen or more I did not mention.)
The first time I saw Richard Thompson do an all request show, he played the Left Banke's "She Will Call You Up Tonight," and gushed, "I love that album. I can play the whole thing." Knowing that has kept me awake many nights. How about this residency?
"Richard Thompson Plays "Henry The Human Fly" and The Left Banke's "Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina" LPs In Their Entireties."
Well, we did get "Pretty Ballerina" and its "very tricky bridge" last night and it was glorious.
I hope to have the audio from last night, as well the remaining two shows, very soon.
Until then, here's "Night One" of RT's first City Winery "all request" show.
I hope some of you are attending this evening or tomorrow evening. (I wish I was.) I don't think I have ever seen a bad Richard Thompson show, but these "all request" shows are stratospheric.