RICHARD Thompson is such a dexterous, inventive and, indeed, gobsmacking guitarist, audiences tend to whoop and holler at everything he plays.

It sometimes bemuses the veteran singer-songwriter.

“Er, that was just me tuning up,” he told the Dome crowd. Even so, Thompson’s tuning up contains more melody and ideas than most guitarists’ solos.

At 74, the self-effacing and drily amusing folk rocker is still on top of his game.

This superb 18-song acoustic show covered his time with Fairport Convention, his acclaimed years as a duo with ex-wife Linda and 40 years of mostly hit, occasionally miss, solo work. Thompson began with I Misunderstood from Rumor And Sigh, the slick 1991 album that is probably the nearest this singular artist has been to chart success. Genesis Hall (an old Fairport classic) and the Woods Of Darney highlighted his genius for finding new stories to tell as folk songs.

The former is about a police raid on a London hippy squat but written like something from the 1700s. The latter tells how a WW1 soldier takes a wedding photo from a dead comrade’s hand, then falls in love with the bride – haunting, sad and thoughtful, and classic Thompson.

He dedicated Walking The Long Miles Home to the late guitar hero Jeff Beck, explaining how he would watch him play with The Yardbirds at London’s Marquee Club as a teenager and miss the last Tube back to the suburbs.

There was also a tender version of Fairport’s elegiac Who Knows Where The Time Goes, with Thompson saying its writer, his late, much-missed bandmate Sandy Denny, “deserved to be up there with Joni Mitchell and Carole King”.

Wall Of Death and Walking On A Wire, two of his finest songs about the breakdown of love, received rapturous applause. Thompson’s partner, Zara Phillips (no, not that one) came on to duet on numbers including Richard and Linda’s swaggering (and uncharacteristically joyful) I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight. She didn’t quite stamp her authority but then Linda Thompson is a hard act to follow.

There was a smattering of new material, although only the lovely melody of encore Tinker’s Rhapsody seemed on a par with the older stuff. But the best thing all night was the beautiful Beeswing, about a free spirit and the man who wants to settle down with her, arguably Thompson’s greatest song. He will never be fashionable (in every sense – he wears a beret and denim jacket with cut-off sleeves) but this astonishing musician and songwriter will never be out of fashion either.

Simon Copeland