Richard Thompson visited York Barbican this week for a rare full band performance as part of his Ship to Shore tour.

Named after the upcoming album due on 31 May, it is his first studio release since 2018’s '13 Rivers’.

In the Sixties, Thompson was an integral member of Fairport Convention, the band that helped shape and electrify the British folk scene.

In 1974, he and his then wife Linda released the acclaimed I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight.

Over the next decade the duo released several excellent albums including Pour Down Like Silver and Shoot Out the Lights. Thompson’s solo career since has been prolific and inspirational - the roll call of artists that have covered his songs is impressive.

Monday's Barbican show had everything you’d expect from a Richard Thompson gig including great musicianship and a set crammed with bittersweet songs.

York Press: Richard Thompson at the BarbicanRichard Thompson at the Barbican (Image: Dave Lawrence)

His disarming smile and self-deprecating dry humour were on hand between numbers to offer some contrast to the often-dark content of his songs.

Thompson opened with a track off the new album, the superb What’s Left to Lose. It’s one of those songs where all the components drop neatly into place and makes you fall in love with it upon first listen.

Take Care the Road You Choose, Turning of The Tide, and Withered and Died followed before Freeze, another fine song from the new album. Its jaunty Celtic feel was almost shanty like and masked a deceptively dark tale of paralysis and fear of change.

The career spanning set stretched back to the Bright Lights album and stopping off along the way at high spots like the ethereal Beeswing.

York Press: Richard Thompson, Zara Phillips and band on stage at the BarbicanRichard Thompson, Zara Phillips and band on stage at the Barbican (Image: Dave Lawrence)

As the band left the stage for Thompson to perform the number alone, he cracked, “There seems to be some sort of industrial dispute going on. I’ll play you this while they resolve it.”

The song of lost love set in the summer of love just gets better every time you hear it.

Hard On Me became an extended jam with Thompson happily giving his grandson Zak Hobbs the spotlight on lead guitar as he did again on Tear Stained Letter which closed the main set.

There was also a cover of Sandy Denny’s John the Gun and an achingly sad solo acoustic version of Dimming of the Day.

York Press: Curtain call: Thompson and his band acknowledge the applause of the Barbican crowdCurtain call: Thompson and his band acknowledge the applause of the Barbican crowd (Image: Dave Lawrence)

The band were excellent with Hobbs on guitar, Taras Prodiniuk (bass), with former Fairport Convention member Dave Mattacks (drums) and Zara Phillips – Thompson’s wife – on vocals and acoustic guitar.

Thompson is one of the most under-rated guitarists of all time and proof that command of your instrument doesn’t need to be accompanied by facial contortions, or the speed at which your fingers blur up and down the fretboard or require an elevated platform on which to pose and throw shapes.

It was a superb evening spent in the company of one our finest singer-songwriters with the only downside being it passed too quickly.