Epic is not typically the first word that comes to mind when talking about a solo singer-songwriter performance.
However, the term fits for Richard Thompson, who held the stage for at least two hours with a full bore unpredictable set combining almost 50 years of great songs and astoundingly orchestral acoustic guitar playing.
The material ranged across his entire career, from the late '60s Fairport Convention (“Meet on the Ledge”) to his days with Linda Thompson (“Walking on a Wire”) to several songs from his latest recording “Still [Beeswing].” His dryly funny banter between songs was quick-witted and self-deprecating.
Thompson’s assured, bravura performance was so responsive to the audience that for an extended period, he played nothing but shouted requests -- “Persuasion,” “Beeswing” and his surprisingly effective cover of Brittney Spears' “Oops, I Did it Again.” (Whose chord progressions he compared to late medieval Italian songs.) That he would play the rocking “Vincent Black Lightning” was signaled by a beautifully restored 1947 Vincent motorcycle off the Modlin Center lobby.
“You are very good,” an audience member called out to him toward the end.
“You are not supposed to be so surprised,” said Thomson with a smile.
The set ended with two extended encores, including “Woods of Darny,” a lovely, sad song that through artistic alchemy left the audience happy.
Vermont multi-instrumentalist Sam Amidon opened with a smart, skillful, but decidedly non-epic solo set of tradition-tinged songs.
1. When the Spell Is Broken
2. Walking on a Wire (Richard & Linda Thompson cover)
5. Beatnik Walking
6. For Shame of Doing Wrong (Richard & Linda Thompson cover)
7. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning
8. Dry My Tears and Move On
9. I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (Richard & Linda Thompson cover)
10. Meet on the Ledge (Fairport Convention song)
11. Good Things Happen to Bad People
13. Hots for the Smarts
14. Oops!... I Did It Again (Britney Spears cover)
16. Wall of Death (Richard & Linda Thompson cover)
17. I Misunderstood
18. Woods of Darney
19. I Feel So Good
20. Broken Doll
21. One Door Opens