Following the success of Dermot O’Leary’s collaboration with Joe on ITV’s “The Nightly Show”, Joe returns to the show for the final week on Monday April 17th 2017.
The show, a kind of current affairs/news satire, has featured a whole raft of great comedian/hosts including David Walliams, Jason Manford, Davina McCall and Gordon Ramsay. Joe’s been on-hand to provide live musical accompaniment for Dermot O’Leary’s week at the helm and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
In the words of Dermot O’Leary, Joe provided “brilliant piano playing… from the best and only pianist I know!”
Watch Joe introduce Megan Mullaly from ‘Will & Grace’ (YouTube).
“Historic occasions” are often a bit of an exaggeration. However, it was a perfectly apt description of the 21st April 2016 for this piano player…
On 21st April 2016, Joe was invited to Windsor Castle to play for the Royal Family and a few close friends for the Queen’s 90th private birthday party. It was an intimate and confidential affair but it is giving no secret away to say Joe was made to feel completely at home by the Royal Family, and was given the opportunity to wish Her Majesty a very happy birthday and to chat with Prince Charles and Prince Harry. “The Royal Family were the best hosts ever! And I got to shake the hand of the country’s longest reigning monarch.”
Joe had just played “Close to you”, “Raindrops…” and a frantic version of “Say a little prayer”…
Whether at the Ivy or elsewhere in London’s top venues Joe often finds himself playing for his favourite musical legends, who inevitably come over to the piano for a chat. In July 2016 Joe played for Burt Bacharach (right) and had the opportunity to thank him for his music. “Thanks for playing it”, came the quick response. Joe also played for Monty Norman’s 80th birthday party in April 2016. The composer of the original Bond theme (pictured) sang it with Joe at a Variety event. On other occasions Sir Paul McCartney sang some impromptu Cole Porter with Joe, Sting said he’d enjoyed the version of his song so much he had almost got up and sang – “Next time, pleeese do!” replied Joe. Barry Manilow thanked Joe for playing the right chords to Copacabana and Neil Sedaka gave Joe the thumbs up for “Laughter in the Rain”. A lovely surprise was Sade’s reaction early in 2016 to Joe’s “Smooth Operator”. “She grinned, waved, then danced right across the room. What a legend!”
From the world of theatre, Joe recently played for Dame Judi Dench’s 80th birthday party and less than a month later, by a strange coincidence for Dame Maggie Smith’s 80th birthday party.
The one that got away is Adele – she was very complimentary … “I love your piano playing. Will you play for my party? Do you have a card? I’d love you to play at my party..” but she didn’t phone, she didn’t write, maybe next year?…
On 26th April 2016 Joe performed Rhapsody in Blue for an audience of two thousand in one of the best concert halls in the UK. It is 29 years since Joe last performed his favourite concert piano piece.
“If you want to hear me do it again, you’ll have to wait another 29 years” says Joe, “it was an amazing feeling, and the audience were fantastic, but I don’t know how these concert pianists do that night after night. So much respect!”
Joe’s latest opera misdemeanour has been his collaboration with the versatile Celinde Schoenmaker currently dazzling audience’s in the West End’s production of Phantom of the Opera. Joe has been encouraging Celinde to unleash “her soul singer within” – not that she means much coaxing. Like the Phantom, Joe hopes to lure her, and as many other operatic voices as he can find, across to the dark side i.e. performing in cabaret!
Joe was interviewed recently in a nice feature on the role of the piano player in The Musician magazine. You can read the whole thing here:
At 7pm on December 6th at London’s famous Crazy Coqs cabaret room, Jessie Buckley will be taking time out from performing in A Winter’s Tale (with Sir Kenneth Branagh and Dame Judi Dench) for a long awaited reunion with Joe Thompson. Since they first got together around the piano in the Ivy Club the two have performed many sell-out concerts but since Jessie’s acting career took off their performances are few and far between. With Chris Cobbson on guitar and Robert Rickenberg on double bass this reunion of friends should be very special indeed.
Like most musicians Joe’s simultaneously intrigued and mystified by the creative process… where do all those ideas come from when you’re all playing your heart out? Improvisation which is part knowledge, technique, imagination, and risk-taking all in one moment, might sometimes seem like magic, but science journalist David Bradley has been looking at the state of current neuro-scientific research, and interviewed Joe about the musician’s experience.
You can read the whole, rather fascinating, article here: