(This review first appeared in issue #55 of Shindig! magazine)
RYLEY WALKER & DANNY THOMPSON / MEG BAIRD
Ropery Hall, Barton-upon-Humber
SUNDAY 21st FEBRUARY
Tonight's venue sits a stones throw from the Humber Bridge, formerly the world's longest single span suspension bridge. Inside the hall it's continental and generational gaps that are being spanned, not rivers. Despite the 50-year age difference, the Walker/Thompson pairing is for many a dream billing.
Completing tonight's constellation is Meg Baird, whose opening set holds the audience in rapt awe. A drizzly night outside, “I love the rain... don't take your water for granted” she tells the audience before a stunning version of 'Don't Weigh Down the Light', a song written during California's recent droughts. Bless the weather indeed!
Though it's Sunday evening Walker takes a Saturday-sized swig of whisky before an hour-long set of mostly new material. At 76, Danny Thompson's hard drinking days may be over but his playing is as masterful and fluid as ever, his treasured Victoria bass as majestic live as on those classic recordings. His playing proves the perfect foil for Walker's fervent freewheeling. There are familiar tracks – 'Primrose Green', a reworked 'Summer Dress' and an encore of 'On the Banks of the Old Kishwaukee', but it's the new songs that impress most; whether exploring a young man's blues on 'Sullen Mind', the dark side of bar room life on 'Roundabout', or reflecting on relationships on 'Funny Thing She Said', signs look good for that third album.
Walker is visibly thrilled to be accompanied by the legendary double bassist, with Thompson equally happy to be back out on the road. “Beats watching Flog It!” he deadpans. Amen to that!