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Navigator. Last update 24th Feb 2001.
Australasian Tour 2001.
Melbourne Concert Hall
February 8th 2001
2001 Tour dates
RT interview on Melb radio
Just heard the last bit of Derek Guille interviewing RT on Melbourne radio this afternoon. He was asked what he thought of other people covering his songs and he said there were mixed feelings. He said that one of the funniest things was to walk into a folk club or something and realise after a couple of minutes that it was one of his songs being sung at that time - but that it was barely recognisable because of the interpretation. At the end of the interview, Derek said he was going to play a track from Henry The Human Fly and RT just groaned and said Why? Derek said that it has some wonderful stuff on it and had become one the most treasured cult folk recordings. RT then said "Why" (or something like that) again. Anyway, Derek pushed on and played 'Poor Ditching Boy' Anyway, I better get going - I've got a 4 hour drive to get to the show tonight. Then I've got to turn around and come back straight after the concert to work in the morning. I've got a good stock of music in the car anyway that should keep me going alright.
Australian TV appearance
Out of lurkdom (I think my last post was about 12 months ago) I crawl. Yesterday Richard T appeared on Today, an early morning news/magazine TV show broadcast across Australia on Channel 9, Australia's highest rating TV network. He was interviewed briefly- seemed a little ill at ease-the usual sort of stuff was discussed- and then he played a song live on air. Which classic did he play to reach out to these potential devotees, which song would stun their breakfast table chatter into silence, which song would bring a tranquility to their early morning chaos as they burnt the toast and desperately searched for their missing car keys? Maybe it would be a song to gladden the heart, to rouse them from their still longed for sleep and help them greet the day with newly found enthusiasm? Which song did he play? Mr Rebound. Mr Rebound? Come on Richard, surely you could have found something better than this very average effort which couldn't even get on Mock Tudor. National TV. A wide demographic watching or at least listening. Mr Rebound. Ah well, a golden opportunity wasted I think. (Or am I being a little harsh?).
FROM THE AGE
Dark side of the pen
By TERRY REILLY
Friday 2 February 2001
By the time they reach exalted status, most songwriters have their craft under control. But, as prolific songsmith Richard Thompson says, anything can happen when the seed of a song is plucked from the ether. "You sit down to write a song because it's fun," he says from his home in Los Angeles. "What happens after is often unexpected. I have a lot of frustration in my life, and that sometimes affects what I do. A song is essentially a short story. It can be a little dark and a little light." Thompson's songs are short stories with a poet's touch, honed from an early involvement in Scottish folk songs. Considered one of England's finest songwriters, the founding member of electric folk-rock band Fairport Convention in 1967 has amassed a vibrant body of work. He stayed with Fairport until 1971, helping the band extend the parameters of folk-rock with 1969's acclaimed Lief and Liege. His first solo album, Henry the Human Fly (1972), is politely described as experimental by some pundits, by others as a classic in which the guitarist finds his true voice and signature guitar style. Thompson, on the other hand, is dismissive, saying he knows "everyone who's got a copy of it personally".
Thompson and his wife at the time, Linda, recorded six albums between 1974 and 1982, bookended by I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight and the widely acclaimed Shoot Out the Lights. For the past two decades, Thompson has been hailed as both a songwriter's songwriter and a guitarist's guitarist, and with no band accompanying him on this tour, Australian audiences will find out exactly why. The lone, adventurous guitar will throb intensely and rhythmically, and, for him, "the rhythm must be the servant of the song". The troubadour's voice, urgent and serious, will underscore a range of fascinating word pictures that are contextually bleak, witty, artless and complicated. Lyrics such as: "O God loves a drunk, the lowest of men/With the dogs in the street and the pigs in the pen/But a drunk's only trying to get free of his body/And soar like an eagle high up there in heaven (Rumour and Sigh, 1991). The dark side of the pen coupled with a compelling rhythm is often a sure-fire winner. "I can get an antipodean combo like Crowded House - a pop band, and a very good one - that have dark lyrics and a lot of Catholic guilt in there. It works and is completely acceptable," he says.
Discerning listeners will find subtexts in Thompson's body of work, while the discerning reader of the credits in the Mock Tudor (1999) CD booklet may catch the comment attached to the "Thank you" list that reads: "Dedicated to all of the suburbanites of London. Did you know that 80 per cent of all of Australians live in suburbs?" The suburbs have infiltrated his craft. "I grew up in and around the suburbs of London," he says with a sigh. "I found it very bleak and have developed a love-hate relationship with them." Thompson's spontaneous conversations sometimes lean towards self-deprecating humor and lightness. But there's depth in captivating titles such as Mingus Eyes, about carefree youth, the allegorically personal Calvary Cross and the numinous Bathsheba Smiles. "There's a lot of college professors out there who come to my shows. I'd rather have a lot of nubile young girls come along." He makes a joking allusion to Britney Spears and Elton John covering his songs. But it's reassuring to have country diva Patty Loveless swinging into Tear Stained Letter, with Bonnie Raitt, the Pointer Sisters and Jo-el Sonnier also joining the queue. Referring to the London-ness of Tear Stained Letter, Thompson is amused by its popularity in country-music circles. "I was surprised Patty Loveless did it so well. A great deal of country artists have done it so well, too, considering it has a great deal of Cockney and rhyming slang. They managed to make a great deal of sense of it."
For someone on the edge of the music industry such as Thompson, it's significant of his standing among peers and critics that author and broadcaster Patrick Humphries wrote the biography Richard Thompson: Strange Affair. Humphries saw the guitarist perform with Fairport at the Bath Festival in 1970 and followed his career closely from then. "I found out what a truly great guy I am," Thompson says mockingly. "I was in doubt for so many years. Someone can write 300 pages about you and there'll be tons missing. I'm harder to pin down and write about." A Muslim for more than 20 years, Thompson has never reconsidered his position, seeing his beliefs as part of his make-up. "Islam is a better description," he corrects in reference to Sufism. "It does affect my craft. A lot of the love songs I write have a spiritual overview. Yes, I'm a Muslim - it's not that I've changed from something to something else. I am who I am. It gives me more discrimination. The music business is shark-infested waters, and it helps me to steer through the gaps."
RT last night in Melbourne
Last night in Melbourne very hot. Great venue..Melbourne Concert Hall, acoustics brilliant. Holds almost 3,000 people. I'd say there were nearly 1,500-2,000 there. Opening act: Chris Wilson (vocals) and Shannon Bourne(?) (guitar). 30 minute set. Although not my cup of tea (blues type music), Chris has got a great voice and plays a mean harmonica.
RT: don't have to say anything do I? Audience very receptive. Played a lot off Mock Tudor, also played the new one "Word Unspoken, Sight Unseen". Sounded good on the one hearing. Only two from the '70s The Great Valerio and Dimming of the Day. 5 from the 80s: Wall of Death, Shoot Out the Lights, Valerie, Turning of the Tide, Keep Your Distance. The rest from the 90s. I suppose that's why he's still so good. Acts that have been going as long as him rely heavily on old material. Speaking of which: With a big grin on his face, he asked whether we'd be going to see Deep Purple, who are touring here soon eluding to it being a good show (tongue firmly in cheek). Then he asked whether we'd be going to see Bob Dylan; he then stated facetiously "He's crap!".
Sorry that it's over. I wish he would stay out on stage for 4 hours. Selfish bastard arn't I? We only get to see him once every 4 years or so, if where lucky. Looks as if I'll have to save up one year and travel OS to see him perform with his band. Still yet to see him live with the electric guitar. Oh well one day. See you in 2005 RT and thanks. Oh and one question to Donnie Graves, Flip. How about putting the animated film of "I Feel So Good" on and enhanced CD for the up coming "Action packed" CD....in not on all CDs, how about on a limited edition for us fanatics?
Guitar Hero Transforms Concert Hall Into a Big Folk Club
(Sorry John, it's ironic!) The last time I was in the Melbourne Concert Hall I heard Arvo Pþrt's Berlin Mass performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Choir one or two years ago - an exhilarating musical experience of a different kind. I was surprised to find that one man - in black jeans, black tee and black beret, of course - and his guitar could fill the hall with sound in the same way. There was a small but visible number of nubile young girls and, er, nice young lads in the audience. The set felt like an extension of the Mock Tudor promotion with his '90s work well represented. 'For Madonna' and 'I agree with Pat Metheny' got great responses - Australians have a habit of not taking their heroes too seriously. Only problem with these 'fun' numbers was that having heard so much about them the surprise - but not the enjoyment - was a bit muted for me.
After some spontaneous echoes of 'Crawl back' RT invited us to sing along to 'Sights and sounds' and a few others, but from where I sat this was a rather lame affair. Having only been here for symphony and ensemble performances I had trouble thinking of the Concert Hall as a '(shudder) folk club'. At least he tried. Maybe someone can confirm that I heard this in 'The great Valerio': Come, all you tungsten tumblers, are you really ready yet? No unseen hand will pluck you when you tumble to the net. (I've only heard the version on _Watching the dark_, with 'upstart jugglers'.) 'Word unspoken, sight unseen' sounds like a solid addition to the tortured-romantic repertoire, though it's difficult to comment on a new song on first hearing.
Stop pushing 'Action Packed', Richard, give us a new album! Low points: what, no 'Cold kisses'? no 'Galway'? no 'Al Bowlly'? you get the drift .High points: no Britney, thank goodness >From the audience chatter as we spilled into the muggy night to the sounds of 'Yellow Submarine', it sounded like a good time was had by all.
From Andrew Patterson
Melbourne last night Got back from the Melbourne concert last night after a four hour drive at 3 am very tired but feeling fine. This was the first time I'd seen RT live and I was blown away. I thought an acoustic concert would be very nice but a bit too laid back - but boy can this man rock! Others have posted the set list and there were too many highlights to list. I concur with what others have said about the amazing number of parts he appeared to be playing on his guitar. Unfortunately I was on the wrong angle to see much of the finger work, but it was truly an awesome sound. Some random memories
The acoustics were superb from where I was sitting. The seats were comfortable and I was able to get lost in "the musical carpet ride" that RT promised us at the start. I'm glad he played Dimming Of The Day and was pleasantly pleased with the performance ex-Linda. I also enjoyed the novelty numbers and their introductory stories. I was hearing all the Mock Tudor songs for the first time - I've had a copy on order for 6 weeks but alas it didn't arrive in time for me to accustom myself to it before the big night. I liked all of them although Uninhabited Man slipped passed me. Someone seemed to have a Teddy obsession and was yelling for Teddy songs. At one stage he yelled something like 'Do one for Teddy' and RT asked 'What?' This person then repeated the request and RT looked bemused and replied "Is that some sort of code?". Later on after another Teddy request RT said something like "Look, he's not hear alright! - Get over it".
A word about the openers - Chris Wilson and Shane O'Mara. They only played five songs (including one encore) but Chris has an incredibly powerful voice and spot-on harmonica playing. Shane is a very good guitarist and works with a number of Melbourne's finest around the traps, but was the subject of an ongoing joke all night. When the duo were introduced at the start the voice over lady wrongly announced Shane Bourn. Bourn is a Melbourne comedian and the announcer had obviously had got muddled up at the crucial time (or was given the wrong info). Anyway, before one song Chris said "This one goes out to the Bourn family" . Later RT also complemented the opening act as Chris Wilson and Shane Bourn with tongue in cheek.
Melbourne Concert Attendance & Promotion
I am another who had a fabulous time at the Melbourne Concert on Thursday and, with a prime viewpoint from a seat in the 2nd row, could not have hoped for more (except maybe 'I Misunderstood'. :-) The Concert Hall is a massive arena and, from when they started advertising in the Age newspaper late Nov/early Dec, it seemed unlikely that they'd manage to draw anything near a full house. Someone else has suggested 1500+ on the night ? I would say less; most of the stalls were filled, but only about the first 4 rows of the circle; none of the upper circle. >From the first publication of the ad in the Age, it was repeated in (typically) the Fri, Sat & Sun editions for most weeks up until the concert. But who would be responding to those ads ?Those of us who closely follow RT would have had our tickets in our mitts long ago, and those who haven't ever heard of RT are highly unlikely to book. A lot of advertising dollars for little return, I would think. I would suggest that for somewhere like Victoria, (indeed Australia) a different sort of approach would expose RT to people who have not yet been in the fortunate position of being able to discover his music. Something along the lines of Port Fairy Folk Festival, where the public are exposed to music many genres, some which they might not normally have been tempted to sample. It was in this way that I (and many, many others) discovered Chris Smither for the first time last year; I now have several of his CDs in my collection. Another small, but effective, promotional opportunity that could have added to the ticket sales:- an in-store performance and/or CD signing at Basement Disks in Melbourne. ? I feel that, while in Australia, RT is likely to pick up more new fans from Adelaide (as a result of Womadelaide), than from anywhere else here, simply because the other capital city audiences would comprise mainly of his existing fan base. Anyway, four years between shows, far too long for us to wait - ever since I left the UK in '87 I've suffered from withdrawal symptoms, which seem to worsen each time. Let's get him back here sooner:-)
Melbourne Concert Hall 8/2/01
Shoot out the lights
I agree with Pat Metheny
Walking the long miles home
Keep your distance
Dimming of the day
Word unspoken, sight unseen
Wall of death
No known recording exists of this show.
2001 Australian tour reviews/interviews and photographs
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