Green and Rhodri Perform “Dust Be Diamonds” July 19th, 2009 Video

Click here to see a one minute QuickTime clip of Green and Rhodri at Barbican!

(As if the pics weren’t enough- Thanks for the video and article too Matt!)

I’ve been visiting London this past week, and as a longtime fan of the British folk-rock musician Richard Thompson, I bought tickets to a pair of related Barbican Centre concerts held over the weekend. Saturday’s concert was a reunion of Thompson’s original band, Fairport Convention, and Sunday’s was a tribute to the Incredible String Band, with Thompson as one of many special guests.

I know Fairport’s music well and very much enjoyed that show, but having never quite connected with ISB’s albums, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect last night, especially with the non-participation of central band member Robin Williamson. So although I was curious to see Thompson outside of his usual context and I’m always happy to catch Robyn Hitchcock live, Rhodri’s report that he and Green would be participating was responsible for making me excited to attend. Happily, it proved to be a worthwhile evening.

Before I say anything about the show, I’d like to note that the opening song on “Daring Adventures,” Thompson’s 1986 solo album, is “Bone Through Her Nose,” a seemingly snide song about a glam woman who adheres to all the rituals of being an urban “tribal animal” save having the aforementioned bone. And one of her attributes, he snarls, is a “boyfriend who plays in Scritti Politti.” So I never in my life expected to see Messrs. Thompson and Gartside sharing a stage, which they repeatedly did last night. I’ve sent John Hyde a fuzzy image of the two together, which he’s free to post somewhere for all here to see.

Because I’m not familiar with ISB’s music, I’ve copied a detailed set-list report that was posted overnight on the ISB group’s site by one “N. Lowe.” Well done, N., whoever you are. But for several reasons, I can report that Green appears to know the ISB’s music well. For one, on the ensemble numbers for which he provided harmony vocals, I often saw him mouthing lyrics that someone else was responsible for singing.

Green also told a delightful tale before performing “God Dog” about how ISB’s music made his not very nice town more livable, and also how he got his ears pierced after seeing Robin Williamson’s piercings on the cover of an ISB album, causing him to be exiled by his parents to his grandparents’ home. Green also brought down the house with his anecdote about hearing ISB live in Bristol, which so excited him that he ran out into the street after the concert and was struck by a car, causing him to lose the feeling in his leg for six months. “So,” he concluded, “they had quite an impact on me.”

Anyhow, as you can see from the set list below, Green was a frequent participant in the evening’s festivities, performing two featured songs with Rhodri and also providing vocals on ensemble numbers, including the opener and the final encore. For both featured tunes, he was paired with Camilla (Kami) Thompson, the daughter of Richard and Linda Thompson, whose sweet voice melded perfectly with Green’s.

I’ll leave it to Rhodri to assess the musical success of the evening, but to these ears, both “Dust Be Diamonds” and “God Dog” sounded great. Green was in superb voice throughout, and I repeatedly heard his voice soaring over the massed ensemble vocals. Both in the set list below and at the lobby bar afterwards, people were appreciative that Rhodri seemed to playing the Dolly Collins arrangement of “God Dog.” I’m afraid I don’t understand this, but good on ya, Rhodri.

I went out to the lobby with friends during the interval/intermission and was amazed to see a number of the performers mingling with the crowd. I spotted Rhodri and buttonholed him. He was as gracious and informative as ever, and also insisted that I say hello to Green, which I did, briefly. I asked Green about “Bone Through Her Nose” and he chuckled, jokingly adding that Thompson had promised him a “cash settlement” for the song mention.

Anyhow, I’m not quite sure how Scritti’s participation in this one-off evening came to be, but for me, the presence of Green and Rhodri immeasurably enhanced the evening’s musical value. And now I’m wondering if Green will mention Fairport on his next album.

–Matt

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