Live Review: Richard Thompson; Springsteen tonight; Sheehan Sunday and the rest of the weekend…

Category: Blog — @ 5:55 pm March 14, 2008

Richard Thompson’s 100-minute set (including two encores) last night at Scottish Rite Hall ranked right up there with the last time I saw him play back in ’94. It was the same sort of set-up: Thompson came out to a nearly empty stage, surrounded by the flora and fauna that is the Scottish Rite’s Bambi-esque stage backdrop. Thompson (black shirt, black jeans, black beret) stood behind two monitors, a panel of pedals at his feet next to a faux tree stump that held a towel, a cup of water and what looked like a container of Johnson’s Baby Powder. With no introduction, he rifled into a set of music that stretched back to ’74’s I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (the title song and “Down Where the Drunkards Roll”) as well as an encore that included “Shoot Out the Lights.” Between all that were a handful of songs from last year’s Sweet Warrior (which I intend to download today), a cheeky number about how he loves brainy women, and maybe his most-loved ballad, “1952 Vincent Black Lightning.”

Anyone who’s seen him before knows that Thompson is the king of witty between-song patter; i.e., he’s utterly charming, that is if you can decipher his rapidly delivered British brogue. The real treat, though, is his guitar work, which is stunning. He walked on stage with a single acoustic guitar and almost two hours later, walked off stage with that same guitar. In that time, he made the beat-up brown ax sound like a stringed symphony, its tone only matched by Thompson’s own brassy voice, which sounded no different than when I heard it 24 years ago.

I watched the show from a half-filled balcony. I never got a look at the crowd on the main floor, though the area in front of the stage was littered with bald guys sitting Indian style — not a single woman to be seen down there. For the most part, the crowd was responsive, and Thompson seemed to be having a good time (if coming out twice for encores is any indication).

* * *

I told Teresa to listen closely to Thompson’s guitar, because she wasn’t going to hear anything remotely as well-played at the Springsteen concert tonight — that’s right, we’re going. I’ve never been a big Springsteen fan. I always thought his early albums (Greetings…, Born to Run) were utter cheeseball efforts. His stuff never really interested me until The River and Nebraska. It’s been hit and miss ever since (mostly miss), though his last album, Magic, is a nice return to form and is probably the best thing he’s done since cheese-factory Born in the U.S.A.

You, of course, will get a full report, either tomorrow or on Monday (but probably tomorrow, so look for it).

What about the rest of the weekend?

Tonight after the Springsteen concert, stroll on over to Slowdown Jr. for Glorytellers, featuring Geoff Farina of the now-defunct Karate. Opening is Thunder Power!!! $7, 9 p.m. It should be the same crowd I saw at the Qwest, right?

Meanwhile, The Saddle Creek Bar is celebrating St. Paddy’s Day a few days early with The Killigans, The Upsets, Bent Left and Green Room Rockers. I foresee green beers, Jamison’s and a drunken mess. Fun! $5, 9 p.m.

Over at The Waiting Room it’s Satchel Grande. $7, 9 p.m.

Saturday night’s big show is Vic Chestnutt opening for Jonathan Richman at The Waiting Room. I know, JR is the headliner, but I prefer Chestnutt’s music (and will probably be the only one in the room who does). Last time I saw him play live was at The Capitol Bar, probably around ’96 or so, with Alex McManus accompanying him. $12, 9 p.m.

Over at O’Leaver’s it’s Bazooka Shootout, The Championship and a third band TBD, assuming that The Ointments aren’t going to play (Does anyone know how Reagan Roeder is doing?). $5, 9:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, at The 49’r, it’s an always-classic performance by The Filter Kings with The Mercurys. I assume this one will run around $5 and start around 10.

Finally, Sunday, it’s the Stephen Sheehan 50th Birthday concert at Slowdown Jr. Sheehan is celebrating with his two favorite bands, KC’s Far Beyond Frail and Omaha’s Shiver Shiver. Between sets, he and Richard Schultz will play a set of music from their Between the Leaves project. $5, 8 p.m.

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