Richard Thompson  in concert at Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche, Faenza, Italy.  19th June 2016

 rtHow great is this?  A pay on the door  chance to see and hear at close quarters one of the great figures in contemporary folk-rock,  and playing solo too.

This was meant to be an outside show in the grounds of Faenza’s elegant ceramic museum but the threat of rain prompted a late change of plans.

A makeshift stage was set up in the gallery space and plastic seats took the place of cushions.

The arrangements were made easier by the fact, that for a class act like Richard Thompson, all you need is a guitar and a glass of water.

At 67, Thompson looks fighting fit and is fine voice. Rather than resting on his laurels, he is still making high quality solo albums as this year’s ‘Still’ demonstrates. Years of experience and an unpretentious character means that he effortlessly wins over his audience.

Although he speaks very little Italian, he knows the word for ghost (fantasma), love (amore) and is pleased to be informed that Beatnik is the same in both languages!

His trusty crowd pleaser, Vincent Black lightning is introduced as a love triangle between a boy, a girl and a motor cycle. For a sea shanty, Johnny’s Far Away , he gets us all singing along with the chorus.

A perfectly judged balance of new and old material also breaks whatever ice there might have been in the room. He cherry picks songs from his formidable back catalogue and, to everyone’s delight , includes Fairport Convention’s sublime Who Knows Where The Time Goes as a tribute to the late lamented Sandy Denny and fiddler Dave Swarbrick who sadly passed away earlier this month.

My personal favourite was Persuasion, an example both of Thompson’s delicate guitar playing and his ability to write touching love songs that don’t fall back on tired clichés.

‘I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight’ and ‘Shoot Out The Lights’ are reminders of the great songs he wrote and played with his then wife, Linda but this is far from being just an occasion for wandering down memory lane.

Thankfully, Thompson is still here in the present tense and if he’s playing in a town near you, do yourself a favor and go along to experience at first hand a master class of finger picking and song craft.

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