The Empty Places tour (Strange Angels) was the first show of hers I saw. I had a girlfriend at the time who was a huge fan. I'd listened to "Big Science" and "Home of the Brave" and found it just odd and amusing enough that a trip to New Orleans to see her sounded perfect. Keep in mind that this was fifteen years ago, and my wild oats were still being sown. We'd brought along some party favors that Timothy Leary made popular, and I'm still not sure that I've completely recovered. Youthful exuberance...
Altered states aside, I don't think I've ever been quite as stunned by a performance, Richard Thompson's shows included. It really hadn't occurred to me that there were NO rules whatsoever. I was completely unprepared for this wisp of a woman to come out and start speaking in that spooky, electronically altered "voice of authority" and tell genuinely clever stories and sing these achingly beautiful songs, ask intelligent questions without preaching, make me laugh out loud and actually challenge me to think
Since then I've seen her quite a few times and her performances and focus have changed pretty dramatically. Every few years she'll tour with a full-blown multimedia performance, and the tours in between are far more intimate "talks". The upcoming show in Nashville falls into the latter category. She's not supporting an album -- this is actually her "report" at the end of her tenure as NASA's first Artist in Residence. The violin and the keyboards are still part of the show, but it's mostly a spoken-word performance. The last time I saw her was in '98 at the Variety, and the format was very similar to this one. Quite frankly, I really can't wait.
Glad to know I'm not the only fan out there.