LIVE: Loudon Wainwright III & Richard Thompson @ The Egg, 10/18/09

Richard Thompson (photo by Joe Putrock)

Richard Thompson (photo by Joe Putrock)

I’m guessing that I’ve seen Richard Thompson and Loudon Wainwright III at least a dozen times each – heck, I once watched four Thompson shows in two days at the Iron Horse – and they’re both among my very favorite singer-songwriters. So the opportunity to see the two of them together on stage brought with it some mighty high expectations.

And I was not disappointed.

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You can read my review in the Times Union.

Wainwright was up first, and he came armed with lots of new songs, topical “songs for the new depression.” They were fun, if not particularly insightful, and let’s face it, a song like the hillbilly hoedown sing-along “Cash for Clunkers” probably only has about another three months of shelf-life.

But he sounded great. He kept the mugging to a minimum. He played banjo, frailing “High Wide & Handsome.” He played the grand piano on “Another Song in C.” And he played two of my all-time fave Loudon songs – “Motel Blues” and “The Swimming Song.”

I always tend to forget just how spectacularly talented Richard Thompson is. Maybe I just take him for granted these days. from the opening bittersweet “I Misunderstood” to the harrowing anti-war finale “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me,” he was on the money. “Time’s Gonna Break You” – aimed at a certain recent ex-US president – was brimming over with vitriol and bile, while the love song “Persuasion” was appropriately tender and open-hearted.

“1952 Vincent Black Lightning” never fails to mesmerize, but it was a mad powerhouse performance of “Crawl Back (Under My Stone)” that was the highlight of the night, featuring Thompson’s most passionate vocals, as well as his most masterful and adventurous guitar work.

They did five songs together, one from each of their solo repertoires and interesting covers from Charlie Poole, the Coasters and Bob Dylan. Apparently, they’ve been mixing up their set lists quite a bit on this tour. It sure would be wonderful if they released an album of live duets, wouldn’t it?

LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III SET LIST
All I Can Do Is Play This Song (?) new
Heaven
Had to Be Her
Motel Blues
Old Friend
?? new
The Picture
Dead Man’s Clothes
Didn’t He Ramble
High Wide & Handsome
Another Song in C
Unfriendly Skies
You Ain’t Going Nowhere (with Richard Thompson)
The Swimming Song (with Richard Thompson)
Cash for Clunkers
Middle of the Night

RICHARD THOMPSON SET LIST
I Misunderstood
One Door Opens
Time’s Gonna Break You
Johnny’s Far Away
A Brother Slips Away
I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
Sunset Song
1952 Vincent Black Lightning
Persuasion
Crawl Back (Under My Stone)
The Sun Never Shines on the Poor
Dad’s Gonna Kill Me
Down Where the Drunkards Roll (with Loudon Wainwright III)
The Deal (with Loudon Wainwright III)
ENCORE
Smokey Joe’s Cafe (with Loudon Wainwright III)

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