British guitarist, Richard Thompson and the golden-voiced Patty Griffin, both incredible songwriters graced the historic stage at the Rialto Theater in Tucson.
As co-headliners, Richard played the first set, consisting of both old favorites and several new songs as well.
Of these new songs, he offered one called ‘Dad’s Gonna Kill Me a song from a soldier’s point of view, suggesting that politicians are a bunch of “lying scum” and that just as Vietnam became known as ‘Nam, Baghdad will be known as ‘Dad. This song is also a free download on “me.com [richardthompson.com] it’s all about me”.
He was ever the comedian, calling Bright Lights Tonight his only “hit-let, it’s a hit-oid, it’s better than nothing
Before Down Where the Drunkards Roll he looked at me (in the front row with my reporter’s notebook) and said, “This is a vintage song, for those of you taking notes. There’ll be a quiz after.”
He plugged his other gig, “Thousand Years Of Popular Music” saying that he’d skip the Black Death, which was not very interesting and singing “it’s my pustule and I’ll cry if I want to” for a moment gathering some laughs. He asked the audience how their Italian was, received a few shouts then asked how our medieval Italian was, saying that “it’s just the colloquial Italian we all have trouble with.” He engaged in a debate on the origins of pasta with an audience member before telling this joke, being the only one that was politically correct after the European Union was formed.
“They say that the only difference between heaven and hell is that in heaven, the English greet you, the French cook, the Italians are in charge of the entertainment and the Germans organize everything. In hell, the English cook, the French greet you, the Italians are in charge of organization and the Germans do the entertainment.”
Before a Fairport Convention song, Michael he quipped that if someone dies adn came back to life it was because he got the verses wrong. The last note of Valerie caused his string to break so he held a “string changing workshop” before his encore, Dimming Of The Say.
Richard’s Set List:
1. Bethsheeba Smiles
2. Walking On A Wire
3. Crawl Back
4. Angels To Rest
5. ‘Dad’s Gonna Kill Me
6. Hots for the Smarts
7. Bright Lights Tonight
8. Sunset Song
9. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning
10. Down Where the Drunkards Roll
11. Cooksferry Queen
13. So Ben Mi Ca Bon Tempo
15. I Feel So Good
16. Warmth of Cold Kisses
18. Dimming of the Day
Patty Griffin came out after a short intermission, during which many members of t
he audience left. She walked out on stage to her piano, saying “It’s so nice to be in Tuscon, it’s my second time here. We’re kicking off a tour. I wanted to start with a song, a hymn, my grandmother used to sing. She would have been 100 years old this week, if she had lived, but she didn’t make it. We lost her last November, she was French Canadian.”
She played J’ira La Voir Un Jour and went straight into Kite Song as the rest of the band filtered on stage.
She introduced Burgundy Shoes by talking about how her new record had a song on there that was a challenge from Craig Ross who had said ‘we always write sad songs, try and write a happy song’ so “I went home and this is what I came up with, it’s a song about my mom- and shoes.”
After Stay On The Ride she said, “I wanna say what an honor it is to be playing with Richard Thompson. He’s such an inspiring performer, I saw him solo went, ‘oh wow! you can do that solo? you can do that?’ He kicks my butt. I wanna play this song, about going to the circus when I was about five, watching the trapeze artists. It was my first vision of glamor, bet there’s another side to her story.”
Then she played Trapeze and said “this is my first love song, for my dog. But tonight it’s a happy birthday song and played Heavenly Day.
She asked how everyone was doing up there in the balcony and she said that she had gone to a show recently and she was up there and they (the performer) never looked up and “I was like, ‘hey, we’re up here!’ You’re all a part of this.”
She sang I Don’t Ever Give Up and then Love Throw which ended with her and Bryn doing a sort of call and repeat style fade out.
The band left her and Doug Lancio on stage and she said, “This is a song from the new record, called Up To The Mountain. It was written about the MLK speech by the same title.”
She did band introductions, first “Doug, my band leader” and then got some terrific feedback, causing her to screw up her face and exclaim, “my goodness! What was that?” befor
e introducing Bryn (from North Tennessee on everything, the upright bass, cello, hand claps) Frank (from my old neck of the woods, Brookline, ME now from Nashville and you’d never believe it) and Michael Longoria from Austin, TX, and “you’ve already met Doug”.
She sang, When It Don’t Come Easy and right into No Bad News saying, “Wow, what a pleasure it is to be in your beautiful city, I got a change to look around, I hope I get to come back someday. Thanks to you all, we hope to see you next time.”
She played Useless Desires and bowed, leaving the stage.
She skipped back out for the encore, and someone yelled out a request.
She laughed, “it’s funny, I don’t usually take requests, but…” before she played Sweet Lorraine. There had been some earlier shows this year that she had edited the lyrics a little, but in Tucson she sang them as they originally were.
The band was gone, but Doug came back out and grabbed his cigarettes from the amp. She played Long Ride Home and then the band came out for Getting Ready. She waved goodbye and said, “We’re gonna get outta here. Hope we can come back soon, thanks, thanks up there!” and they all left the stage.