Along with his incredible guitar skills, his unique voice and his timeless songs, one of the more amazing things about Richard Thompson is his transformation from shy, downbeat young man to comfortable onstage showman in his more mature years.
During his hour-long solo set on the Garden Stage, he cracks jokes about Catholic sex, Donald Trump and beating Yes in this summer’s album charts, even inviting the audience to sing along on “Johnny’s Far Away” with the old saying “I’ve suffered for my art, now it’s your turn.”
Most of the set is taken from his recent Acoustic Classics LP, with highlights including “I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight”, a solemn “Walking On A Wire”, the more recent “Needle And Thread”, which features some mind-bending guitar work, and the crowd favourites “Beeswing” and “1952 Vincent Black Lightning”.
Later on the same stage, and again featuring some mercurial guitar lines, Tinariwen return to End Of The Road, having played a more acoustic set on the larger Woods Stage in 2011. The picturesque intimacy of the Garden Stage suits them better, the trees surrounding the area illuminated in the dark with hues of green and purple.
Tonight’s electric set is also better suited to a festival set, with the sinuous lead lines and bass guitar sparking dancing and clapping (even if some of the rhythms are a bit tricky for those of us untrained in African music). It’s particularly fantastic to see the shorter of the group’s two singers, effectively a kind of Tuareg hype man, shimmying up to the crowd and throwing shapes.
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