Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Hurdy Gurdy Man



Went to the Barbican to see Richard Thompson's show 1000 Years of Popular song with my gig-going mate TT last night.

It was great. A brisk run through of everything from madrigals, opera, music hall, carols and trad folk, right through to Cole Porter, the Beatles and bringing us right up to date with Maneater by Nelly Furtado. That last song I've never heard before, not even by the originator, so the irony was kind of lost on me, and to my shame I also realise how many Beatles songs I don't yet know. I'm a Stones man, you see. However, what a lucky position to be in to have yet to discover Beatles songs. There can't be many of us over 40 who can say that.

Anyhoo, the Barbican is so groovy, with it's twisty staircases, wood panelling, brutalist towers and low level lakes. It's the F-C spiritual home. Of course it's impossible to navigate and just getting in is a feat in itself. Despite my map, I walked around for about 20 minutes trying to find the entrance. It's impenetrable. I felt like I was in The Crystal Maze.



I've seen RT many, many times, and this time was different because he wasn't doing any of his own material. I have to say he did look much older than last time, more stately and still wearing that bloody beret. But don't let that put you off. The musicianship was top notch - he even played the hurdy gurdy, which I've never seen before. He was in fine voice, accompanied by a fabulous vocalist called Judith someone (didn't catch the last name), who was so versatile. She was stunning, though we agreed that the Cleo Laine/X Factor hand movements and vocal gymnastics were nothing more than showing off. Josie Lawrence on drums was rather clunky, a cross between Animal from the Muppets and Don Partridge. But it didn't detract.

But RT was in fine voice. I could see him ever day of the week and never get bored. He did a nice version of Knight of the Road, which I've got by Maddy Prior and Tim Hart. And he's so jolly between numbers, very good at the banter. A super night out.

Celebrity spot of the night: Steven Mangan.

Until next time.

10 comments:

Bright Ambassador said...

Somebody described the Barbican to me the other week as London's Pompidou Centre.

Five-Centres said...

Kind of, but not as colourful.

A Kitten in a Brandy Glass said...

I would love to live in the Barbican flats but it would be a lonely life because anyone who tried to visit would be lost forever. I always imagine that there's some hidden enclave of society deep inside it somewhere, where it's still 1977 and everything's flock wallpaper and wife-swapping. And they live on lentil sprouts grown in window boxes, because they can't find their way out to the shops.

Red Squirrel said...

I saw Richard Thompson on Hampstead Heath last year. By Kenwood. He was wearing a baseball cap. I nearly told him how much I like Calvary Cross. Then I didn't.

LF Barfe said...

I saw the 1000 Years show at Sadlers Wells in 2004, and it was a cracking night out. The only difference then was that his surprise modern song was Oops I Did It Again.

On an RT vibe, there's a great Whistle Test version of Tear Stained Letter on YouTube.

LF Barfe said...

The accompanying musicians were Judith Owen and Debra Dobkin, by the way.

Clair said...

Talking of Don Partridge, I couldn't believe it when I was in the Red Lion in Stoke Newington yesterday and Blue Eyes came on. Brought a tear to mine, I can tell you.

Five-Centres said...

Ah Blue Eyes, what a gem. I've got the Greatest Hits and there are loads of them. Big in Germany, apparently.

Thanks Louis. TT tells me that she's married to Harry Shearer, who I'm sure I saw at the bar pre-show.

Five-Centres said...

Yes Kitten, I'd very much like to think that was true. Somewhere there's still a bistro doing black cherries Jubilee. And it's called Spindles

TimT said...

You forgot to mention the over-excited elderly punter in the balcony who yelled out “Richard Thompson, everyone!” and mimed clapping as we were all filing out of the venue - as if we hadn't just given RT a five-minute standing ovation. Very odd behaviour.

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