Richard Thompson - Leeds Irish Centre
Rabid anticipation, people fainting in the hot and sweaty mosh pit and a gig full of brilliant and explosive showmanship. No, it’s not a long-delayed night in the company of tardy teen idol Justin Bieber but rather, two hours in the company of folk and blues legend Richard Thompson, currently showcasing his mighty fine new album Electric
Hitting the stage bang on time at 8.20 (Bieber take note) the most noticeable thing is the lack of people around Thompson. With just a drummer and bassist in tow there was a slight concern that they may not be able to recreate the sound and quality of Thompson’s recorded work, but it was a thought was soon banished as the band open up with effortless run throughs of a trio of cuts from Electric, with the laid back 'Salford Sunday' being a real heart-warming treat.
In a set laced with great songs old and new it was difficult to pick individual highlight but Thompson’s mind bendingly brilliant guitar work on ‘Hard On Me’ was a sight to behold and had even the likes of Leeds' own guitar maestro Jon Gomm open mouthed in amazement. Of course there were two other musicians on stage - drummer Michael Jerome and bassist Taras Prodaniuk - who provided admirable backing throughout but really shone on the lorry driver murder epic ‘Sidney Wells’ and the Springsteen-esque ‘Wall of Death’. It is, however, Thompson that everyone has come to see and he doesn’t disappoint, adding to the value with sharp doses of witty, between-song banter.
After the main set is brought to a close, Thompson returns for the obligatory encores that include a classic power trio version of ‘Hey Joe’, that even Jimi himself would have been proud of, and a joyous ‘Tear Stained Letter’ that brings proceedings to a rapturously received close.
After two hours of pure entertainment it has become clear that the Richard Thompson is not just for die-hard blues fans or bearded cardigan-wearers; there’s something in his range of styles and musicianship that everyone can appreciate and enjoy.