Richard Thompson Band :: Live at Rockpalast / December 1983

A welcome addition to the Richard Thompson official live archive, this three-CD/two-DVD set captures the singer-songwriter-guitarist shortly after his split with Linda Thompson, his longtime personal and professional partner. Remarkably, the period is really the first time that Richard – a seasoned veteran by this point – had to step up as a frontman. Judging from these two Rockpalast shows, he was more than up to the task, energetically leading his "big band" (featuring a two-man horn section and accordion in addition to bass, guitar and drums) through tunes both old and new. The setlists don't vary much, but that's just fine – there's not much that's better than listening to and/or watching Thompson work his magic, casually tearing through unbelievable solos on "Shoot Out The Lights" and "Tear Stained Letter." The highlight of both shows, however, is a more meditative moment: the lengthy, exploratory reading of "Night Comes In" in Hamburg, which, in addition to Thompson's impassioned vocal and positively miraculous guitar playing, features what might be the spaciest accordion solo you'll ever hear. One question though – why does rhythm guitarist/Fairport Conventioneer Simon Nicol appear to be playing a guitar made out of a Corn Flakes box?   words / t wilcox

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