Gig review: Richard Thompson, Royal Albert Hall, June 2024

Richard Thompson is easily one of the true giants of folk-roots and rock music. From his kick-off as a member of extraordinary folk pioneers, Fairport Convention always pushed musical boundaries and created an astonishing career as a solo artist. 

WORDS: Iain Patience IMAGES: Paul Davies

Through his time with a former wife, Linda – a period many consider still encompasses some of his greatest work – he has always pushed musical boundaries while establishing himself as a stunning solioist over the past decade or more.

His songwriting is seldom anything short of awesome and his guitar picking ditto! After a lifetime at the top of the tree, he has developed a huge global following and now is viewed as that rare thing, a master of both the electric, (generally Fender) and acoustic music.

With a new album just released, Ship to Shore, Thompson has taken to the road on an international promotional tour which included one of his older stomping grounds, the Royal Albert Hall in London where a healthy-size crowd found him as good as ever albeit with an edge of unpredictability – something we have come to expect from the guy in general these days. That aside, he turned out two sets with the shorter first featuring a full band and electric-driven set that included old Fairport buddy Dave Mattacks on drums, and ex-wife, Linda, on support vocals.

His second set was mostly more acoustic in focus, an area where he is virtually unsurpassed in ability, quality and versatility. Ranging from many of his earliest efforts to material from the new album, he seemed completely at ease with an adoring crowd cheering him on. A few special guests also joined in the fun including another of his older pals, Ralph McTell.

Overall, this was a gig worthy of a modern roots giant and Thompson fulfilled every hope and expectation and delivered full-throttle brilliance on the night.

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