Richard Thompson, with guests Joan Shelley and Nathan Salsburg, performing his 13 Rivers Tour at The Town Hall Birmingham on Friday 26th October 2018.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

Widely regarded as one of the country’s most distinctive guitar virtuosos, Richard Thompson, former Fairport Convention member, not only showcased his playing skills but also his incredible song writing talents to a packed Town Hall in Birmingham last night.

And warming the audience up nicely was the lovely Joan Shelley and her long time sideman Nathan Salsburg, who impressed with her spell binding vocals. Opening with Easy Now from her 2015 album Over And Even, she immediately mesmerised with her graceful melodies and poignant lyrics.

With Salsburg supporting on acoustic guitar, her voiced soared on Go Wild and the duet with Salsburg on Stay On My Shore was simply beautiful. Finishing their short set with the gentle acoustic ballads Where I’ll Find You and Not Over By Half, Shelley showed that she is a tremendous talent, poised for a long and productive career in folk music.

Touring to promote his impressive new album, 13 Rivers, Thompson was joined on stage by drummer Michael Jerome, bassist Taras Prodaniuk and occasionally by Bobby Eichorn to deliver an intimate set that contained some new songs, some classics and some from his illustrious past.

Wearing his customary black beret and armed with his trusty red Fender Stratocaster which does not seem to have aged as well as Thompson, they immediately launched into a pair of new songs in the shape of Bones Of Gilead and the feverish blues of Her Love Was Meant For Me, which set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Guitar Hereos from 2015’s Jeff Tweedy produced album, Still, saw Thompson’s blistering fretwork certainly hitting the spot. Take Care The Road You Choose saw a more gentler moment and as the evening flowed by, he filled any gaps with his wonderful stories.

There was a passionate rendition of Fairport Convention’s Meet Me On The Ledge, a track played at his mother’s funeral as requested in her will. There was the brilliant 1982 single Wall Of Death which was covered by REM as a B side at the height of their fame, an epic rendition of new song The Storm Won’t Come and a crowd pleasing airing of Dry My Tears And Move On.

Thompson’s timeless folk masterpiece 1952 Vincent Black Lightning left the Town Hall completely spellbound and Can’t Win made them rock. As he headed towards the home straight he closed with the emotive Put It There Pal and a good old rock and roll number, Tear Stained Letter.

Not being allowed to end the evening there his first encore saw Beeswing and a song written with his ex-wife Linda, Withered And Died. Trying and a cover of The Sorrows Take A Heart brought the crowd to their feet in appreciation and with a career spanning over 50 years, Thompson showed that he hasn’t even thought about slowing down yet, much to the delight of this Birmingham crowd.