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Live Music: Richard Thompson’s “Cabaret of Souls” at Royce Hall
11/24/2010 (updated 11/24/2010)

By Mike Finkelstein

Many people who went to see Richard Thompson perform Cabaret of Souls likely had little idea of what they would actually see. But it’s hard to imagine anyone attending this show walking out with anything other than a feeling of being pleasantly surprised and hugely entertained.
One hugely impressive aspect of the production was that on every level the concert hall was turned into the In Between — not heaven or hell, but a rather boring place with no chance of escape. With so much time on their hands the waiting souls in the In Between sang about their mortal lives and we listened. Everyone who was part of the show, onstage or off, in the lobby or in the theater, was in costume and it surrounded the audience to marvelous effect.

Richard Thompson Cabaret of Souls, Performance at Royce Hall, Los Angeles
Most of all, the playing was impeccable. Thompson has a long-standing reputation as one of the tastiest and expressive guitar players around. His breaks on Friday were beautiful examples of how to say something musically meaningful in a concise but ornate style. His solos featured a remarkable mix of multi-string arpeggios and clever linear phrases, never getting too busy and always giving the music some room to breathe.