Last Thursday, Victor and I went to see Loudon Wainwright III and Richard Thompson at the Vic. I was conflicted about getting tickets for the show, not because I had any doubts about the performers--we've seen Richard Thompson a couple of times before, and he has always been electrifying--but because our live music experiences in the past few years have been less than rewarding. We've come to feel too old for pop/rock concerts--they start late, seats tend to be uncomfortable or nonexistent, we have no patience for junior opening bands, the regular act starts just around our bedtime, etc., etc. Basically, they make us feel like we're old fogies.
Well, perhaps one key to success is to see 60-something-year-old performers. More likely to start right on time because they want to make their bedtime. Also, know the opening act. Loudon Wainwright was outstanding, especially when performing his latest music, from a collection he's calling Songs for the New Depression. And the most important requirement is probably to make sure you're seeing someone who's terrific live...Richard Thompson is a thrilling performer. The new songs are all good, and he plays the old ones in such a way that you happily recognize them, but he also changes them--speeds them up, usually, or does something else to make you realize (and be glad) that you're at a live performance, not just listening to the same music you could've heard at home.
Much has been made of Richard Thompson's virtuoso guitar playing, and, indeed, it's great--especially compared with Wainwright's more straightforward strumming. But I'm also a big fan of Thompson's voice--it seems to me like nobody else's, and not something you particularly expect to hear based on his speaking voice (as opposed to Wainwright, who has an especially pleasant speaking voice as well as a lovely singing voice--they seem to flow into each other). I'm not sure where else these guys are taking their tour, but this concert should not be missed.