Folk rock perfection from the days of yore.
Chris Jones 2007-08-10
Available in illegal forms for many years this concert long represented the Holy Grail to Thompson aficionados the world over. Now us average punters can also bask in its glory. While meaning no disservice to the other absolutely splendid releases that have sprung from this duo this year (Sweet Warrior from Richard and Versatile Heart from Linda) it’s also fabulous to hear the couple at their peak all those years ago.
Touring on the back of their three peerless albums released between 1974 and 1975 ( I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight, Hokey Pokey and Pour Down Like Silver), the couple assembled a band which was two thirds composed of Richard’s old group – Fairport Convention, with Dave Mattacks (drums) and Dave Pegg (bass) joined by accordion maestro, John Kirkpatrick, filling out the sound and allowing the inclusion of a typical morris medley early into proceedings. But it’s Linda’s voice and Richard’s way with a Stratocaster that are what you really pays yer money for here.
Still only 26 at this point, by now Richard had complete mastery of his instrument. His soloing on the extended “Night Comes In” and “Calvary Cross” (previously released on his Guitar, Vocal compilation) are masterclasses in restraint, tone and precision. Similarly, Linda’s voice has a purity that‘s tempered with melancholy, perfectly fitting songs that were written with her in mind. “A Heart Needs A Home” never fails to bring a tear to this reviewer’s eye.
It’s amusing to hear how shy Richard still sounds compared to his easy raconteurship at today’s shows, while the band easily follows their switching of styles from country (Hank Williams’ “Why Don’t You Love Me”) to Chuck Berry-style rocking on “It’ll Be Me”. Anyone not yet familiar with this couple’s legacy may well be advised to use this album as a perfect introduction, while the rest of us can just lie back and be reminded why we ‘ll always love this music. Perfect.