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Music fans had a tough choice Monday night — go see Richard Thompson at The State Room or Alice Cooper with Rob Zombie at Usana Amphitheatre. (And others had to choose between these and The Melvins, elsewhere in Salt Lake City).Apparently, the fireworks at Usana Amphitheatre was a feast for the visual senses, but it is hard to imagine a more generous show than Richard Thompson put on in front of a sold-out crowd at The State Room.With the exception of a 20-minute intermission, the unusually chatty and amiable Thompson and the four musicians backing him played from 8 p.m. to nearly 11 p.m. The first set was a song-by-song performance of his latest album, "Dream Attic," and after that, he played more than an hour of his "greatest hits" — although he has really never had a "hit" in the conventional way.It was my first time seeing Thompson after years of admiring his songcraft. I have always heard about how great a guitar player he is, but he can be described as reticent on record. On record, the song is king, and he rarely lets loose.But live, Thompson allowed himself to let loose, and it was a wonder to behold, and easy to see why he is known as one of the greatest guitar-players alive. Usually, when great guitarists are mentioned, axe men like Hendrix, Clapton, Mick Taylor are mentioned. And rightfully so. But they are all bluesmen. Thompson does not come from that tradition; he is influenced more by folk songs and the Celtic lyrical playing that offers the opportunity to see great guitar work by someone from a different perspective.I personally have a distaste for jamming that is self-indulgent and does nothing to serve the song. But Thompson uses the framework within his well-constructed songs to jump outside of the lines, and the back again, and then outside again. The way he could bend the notes, I was surprised he didn't break some strings.As for the songs, "Dream Attic" sounded much better live than it does on CD, although the CD was recorded live onstage. But the real treat was his long encore, and the highlight was "I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight," which boasted a slightly different vocal melody along with a lusty, more powerful arrangement. The song was originally sung by Richard's now-ex-wife Linda, but in Richard's unique phrasing it became more urgent, and equally satisfying:Meet me at the station don't be late

I need to spend some money and it just won't wait

Take me to the dance and hold me tight

I want to see the bright lights tonight

A couple of drunken knights rolling on the floor

Is just the kind of mess I'm looking for

I'm gonna dream 'till Monday comes in sight

I want to see the bright lights tonight

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