Thompson performs 1,000 years of popular music

BURLINGTON At first glance, it may seem difficult to summarize 1,000 years of popular music into a 2-hour evening set. Not for Richard Thompson, named one of the 20 top guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine. His rocking, moving performance at the Flynn on Friday night showed just how versatile a guitarist he is, and just how creative he can be in reviving traditional world music with his own flair. With the help of Judith Owen on vocals and piano and Debra Dobkin on vocals and percussion, Thompson launched a musical odyssey that began with a slow ballad played on a hand-cranked instrument and ended with Nelly Furtados Maneater. Thinking about all these songs has led me to wonder: has anything changed in 1,000 years? Probably not. The themes seem fairly consistent throughout, said Thompson in an article he wrote for Englands The Guardian newspaper. Thompsons closing rendition of Furtados Maneater showed how fluid traditional tunes can be with modern music. Somewhere in the middle of this one, were going to drift into the 14th Century choral style, and were not even exactly sure where, Thompson quipped to the audience. Thompson reports that the idea for this show arose when Playboy magazine asked him to submit a list of the 10 greatest songs of the last millennium. Hah! I thought, hypocritesthey dont mean millennium, they mean 20 years. Ill call their bluff and do a real thousand-year selection, Thompson recalls. A departure from his typical setlist, Thompson has been performing his 1,000 Year of Popular Music show off-and-on for nearly 4 years. During this span, he has performed traditional works from Europe and the United States alongside Brittany Spears, the Beatles, the Who, and Cole Porter. Indeed, in his album 1,000 Years of Popular Music, Thompson plays Sumer is Icumen In, the oldest song in the English language right alongside Brittany Spears break-out single, Oops! I did it Again. Thompsons Friday night show also illustrated how popular songs have represented and influenced the social, political and religious issues of their time. This was particularly notable when Thompson shifted gears from primarily religious tunes to his rendition of Blacklegged Miner, a song about the terror and discrimination against Englands working class during the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. He followed this with a tragically comedic tune called Trafalgar Square that looked on the destitution of the new urbanity through the eyes of a homeless Englishman living in Lord Nelsons Trafalgar Square. When the audience began to call out requests for Thompsons original music, he brushed them aside with the relentless and hilarious dry humor that typifies his stage presence. Well, you could really request just about anything at a show like this, he said. So well just stick to the game plan.

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