main page tour dates live reviews and photos news downloads buy albums 45s video books lyrics gallery features history and timeline memorabilia related bands and artists sessions/covers links help using Strawbsweb search site tell a friend book Strawbs get Strawbswebnews join Witchwood change your e-mail Facebook etc


ACOUSTIC STRAWBS - UK TOUR
JAN/FEB 2005
PART 1

Updated: 6 Feb 2005

Part 2 - Second leg - 27 January to 12 February

Contents
Red Lion Folk Club, Kings Heath, Saturday 8 January 2005
  • He Thought Back To The Days When He Was Young - Review and recollections by Alan Phillips
  • Not Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios - review and photos by Dick Greener
  • Plenty Of Antiques .... More Than A Hint Of Curiosity - Review by Nigel Bennett
  • Brave New Strawbs - Review by Eamonn Harvey
  • Setlist
  • Half Moon, Putney, Thursday 13 January 2005
  • Hey It's Been A Long Time, It's Good To See You Again - Review by Neil Lamb
  • Doubly Moved - Review by Paul Brazier
  • Classic Show - Review and photos by Dick Greener
  • Setlist from Dick Greener
  • Arts Centre, Norwich, Friday 14 January 2005
    The Farm, Chapel-Saint-Leonards, Saturday 15 January 2005
    The Arts Centre, Chesterfield, Thursday 20 January 2005
  • An Experience And A Half - Review by Ralph Tonge
  • Well, It Was A Game Of Two Halves Jim - Review by Paul Southby
  • All In All The Band Is Getting Stronger - Review by Mike Barker
  • Setlist from Ralph Tonge
  • Guildhall, Lichfield, Saturday 22 January 2005
    Gala Theatre, Durham, Tuesday 25 January 2005
  • Superbly Delivered .... Full Of Raw Emotion - Review by Paul Korhonen
  • Photo from Alison Brown - more pics from Alison
  • Painting Pictures By Song - Review by Alison Brown
  • Life's Not Bad At All - Review by Ian Stobbs
  • Unsurpassable - Review by Simon Carey
  • Setlist from Alison Brown
  • Scholar's Bar, Scarborough, Wednesday 26 January 2005
  • Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside - Review by Alison Brown
  • Photo from Alison Brown - click more pics from Alison
  • Setlist from Alison Brown

  • Setlist from Alison Brown

    Simple Visions
    The Flower And The Young Man
    Ghosts
    Midnight Sun
    Shine On Silver Sun
    Cold Steel
    Autumn

    Lemon Pie
    The Antique Suite
    Oh How She Changed
    New World
    Hard Hard Winter
    If
    Lay Down
    Hero And Heroine

    A Glimpse Of Heaven

    SCHOLAR'S BAR, SCARBOROUGH, WEDNESDAY 26 JANUARY 2005

    OH I DO LIKE TO BE BESIDE THE SEASIDE - Review by Alison Brown

    Having nearly missed the start of the previous night's performance in Durham, I arrived good and early in time to hear the soundcheck and get a seat, centre front. The venue was a smallish bar at the back of a Georgian hotel that has a regular Wednesday live music night.

    None of my friends from the North-East Strawbs fans contingent made the journey down, nor were there any Witchwooders around (I even remembered to wear my badge!), so I spent quite a bit of time chatting with the friendly regulars, who all seemed to have just ONE Strawbs album in their collection, but not the same one!

    The whole sound was much warmer than Durham in the much more intimate room and Chas's vocals were much clearer. "Ghosts" in particular benefited from the smaller venue. The smoulderer from the first set was "Midnight Sun" - beautifully played and absolutely mesmerising.

    I love the second set from start to finish, despite the absence of "The River/Down By The Sea" and "Out In The Cold/Round And Round". It builds up to a thunderous "New World" down gently to "If" via "Hard, Hard Winter" and back up for the grand finale of "Hero And Heroine".

    A brilliant night out and no need for anything on the CD player on the way back - "The Antique Suite" played in my head all the way home.....




    Scarborough photo by Alison Brown - more pics from Alison


    Setlist from Alison Brown

    Simple Visions
    The Flower And The Young Man
    Ghosts
    Midnight Sun
    Shine On Silver Sun
    Cold Steel
    Autumn

    Lemon Pie
    The Antique Suite
    Oh How She Changed
    New World
    Hard Hard Winter
    If
    Lay Down
    Hero And Heroine

    A Glimpse Of Heaven

    GALA THEATRE, DURHAM, TUESDAY 25 JANUARY 2005

    SUPERBLY DELIVERED .... FULL OF RAW EMOTION - Review by Paul Korhonen

    It was a wet and murky night in Durham and it seemed the only cheer around that night would be at the Gala Theatre, which was filling up nicely before the gig. The venue was a good one, with good views and comfy seats.

    There was a slight sound problem with one of the speakers during some of the songs but not enough to mar the enjoyment spilt out to the audience during the course of the evening. Whilst I wasn`t noting down the setlist it seemed very similiar to some of the earlier gigs of the current tour and was received well by all present.

    The band started with the animated "Simple Visions", a favourite of mine and making for a lively start. "The Flower And The Young Man" followed and the emotion laid down during the delivery of this by Dave Lambert was there for all to see.

    As always Dave (Lambert) was lively with his guitar playing and his voice crystal clear. Dave Cousins was emotive with his lyrics and vividly descriptive with his narrative in between songs. Chas Cronk was solid and reliable adding extra vocal harmony to some of the numbers. The trio played a couple of numbers from the latest "electric" Strawbs album (Deja Fou) which were not out of place with older classics. "Cold Steel" was superbly delivered by Lambert and Cousins' vocals on "If" were full of raw emotion.

    The first set included that classic from Hero and Heroine - "Autumn" and brought a fabulous end to part one. At the interval it was off to buy a couple of CDs and the obligatory T shirt - XLarge - not that I need it!

    "Lemon Pie" was rattled off in lively fashion to open the second set. "The Antique Suite" followed. Dave Lambert did much more than a capable job standing in for Tony Hooper on vocals and in fact I probably preferred this version to the original. Other numbers followed and the band finished in lively fashion with "Lay Down" and "Hero And Heroine" before finishing the set. The encore was "A Glimpse Of Heaven" which for the many Strawbs fans on the night was apt.

    All in all an excellent performance from the trio and probably edged the performances I'd seen from Cousins, Lambert and Willoughby over the past couple of years. Roll on the 10th February - the Stockton gig!


    Durham photos by Alison Brown - more pics from Alison.


    PAINTING PICTURES BY SONG - Review by Alison Brown

    It was a filthy, wet night and the total lack of signposting to the theatre, causing me 20 minutes of criss-crossing Durham and nearly missing the start, did not make for an auspicious start to the evening. But things got very much better....

    The early 19.30 start caught quite a few people on the hop and the whole evening was run very much to the clock with an unbelievably early finish at 21:35. The 'camera police' were also out in force though thankfully they didn't catch me until part way through the second set! It was THAT sort of venue.

    A big shake-up in the setlist with four songs I've not heard live before providing a well-earned rest for the likes of "Benedictus" and "Tears And Pavan". "Simple Visions" makes a great upbeat opener, though I'd happily have it anywhere in the set. The three-part harmonies are tremendous, especially on "The Flower And The Young Man" and Dave Lambert's singing is just beautiful. "Cold Steel" is one of those songs, like "Simple Visions", that makes me feel incredibly happy and the mix tonight was spot on, with the banjo nice and audible and the pedals filling out the sound.

    I finally got to hear "Lemon Pie" (it was dropped from the set before I got to hear it the last time it was on the menu) and it makes a great opener to the second set. Next came the first of two WOW moments. Dave's recounting of how it came to be written, set the scene nicely for "The Antiques Suite". Absolutely spellbinding - painting pictures by song! The other moment was "New World" - gave me goose-pimples just like the first time I heard it, many moons ago.

    For me, the only weakness in the set was "Ghosts". Chas's 12-string doesn't seem to have the power to carry the tune like Brian's 'Rosie' did, though this may have been the mix on the night.

    A great night in the end and it was nice to have time to chat in the bar afterwards without being threatened by 'Last Orders'.


    Photos by Alison Brown - more photos from Alison


    LIFE'S NOT BAD AT ALL - Review by Ian Stobbs

    A new year and a new tour (with a gig in the North East).

    The Gala Theatre in the centre of Durham is a modern building with excellent views and sound system. Although it was a cold and wet evening there was a good turnout, but a few were caught out by an earlier than usual start.

    A great start. The band started the first set with "Simple Visions" with Dave back to his animated best. This set the tone for the whole evening. The acappella beginning of "The Flower And The Young Man" was enhanced with the addition of Chas, giving a more polished/balanced vocal performance. "Ghosts", Chas's guitar riff slightly drowned out but that may have been down to the mix on the evening, Dave Lambert's emotive voice enhancing the superb lyrics. "Midnight Sun" followed by "Shine On Silver Sun", "Cold Steel" and the classic "Autumn" completed the set.

    After a short break the part of the evening I had been looking forward to began. "Lemon Pie", "The Antique Suite", "Oh How She Changed"," New World", and "Hard Hard Winter", all new to me gave the band a new momentum. "If", "Lay Down", and "Hero And Heroine" completed the set with "A Glimpse Of Heaven" as the encore.

    Dave Cousins was at his absolute best, his vocals and guitar playing confirmed my view of one of the most talented singer/songwriters around at the moment. Chas Cronk has slotted in seamlessly adding a new depth to the sound. And as for Dave Lambert, absolutely superb.

    Previous reviews of this tour, and especially at Durham, have conveyed the atmosphere and enjoyment of the audience. With Chas adding a third vocal the band certainly sounds more balanced and with the addition of five new songs (to the set list) the band have created a fresh impetus to take them through into the new year.

    A great evening, one or two CDs signed (a bit of "mickey" taking, thanks Alison) and one of the best concerts I've attended. Life's not bad at all


    UNSURPASSABLE - Review by Simon Carey

    I would like to echo the sentiments of the previous reviewers concerning this gig. It was one of the best ever - the second half (in my opinion) was unsurpassable. The guys were on fantastic vocal form and the playing was out of this world. They remained tight and in perfect pitch and Chas has added a new dimension and opened up what seems (and I hope) a new array of songs.

    This was the first time the band has visited my home town (I saw DC live at the Big Jug Folk Club, Durham in 1980 when he was touring the folk circuits on his own and what a night that was!) and the Gala Theatre is a superb venue for sound - it was purposefully built for music and the acoustics are simply beautiful.

    I was accompanied as is becoming the norm by my 10 year old son who loves the band. He even asked why DC didn't use his black Gibson? (he loves that guitar) and when I had told him stories of rock bands I had seen in the past who had thrown guitars (albeit smashed up) into the audience - his hands were ready!

    Good luck to the lads with the rest of the tour - hoping to catch them at Stockton, if not then I shall eagerly await their return (I have promised myself a trip up to The Bein Inn and one day it will happen).


    Setlist from Ralph Tonge

    Simple Visions
    The Flower And The Young Man
    Ghosts
    Midnight Sun
    Shine On Silver Sun
    Cold Steel
    Autumn

    Lemon Pie
    The Antique Suite
    Oh How She Changed
    New World
    Hard Hard Winter
    If
    Lay Down
    Hero And Heroine

    A Glimpse of Heaven

    THE ARTS CENTRE, CHESTERFIELD, THURSDAY 20 JANUARY 2005

    AN EXPERIENCE AND A HALF - Review by Ralph Tonge

    It was a pretty windswept night last night - the journey from Nottingham to Chesterfield had been pretty wild on the M1 - gusts of wind etc. In fact on the journey back I saw two lorries which had been blown over. Still as I parked in a nearby car park and turned my face into the wind (groan...) I was curious as to the venue, initial impressions not being that positive due to problems buying a ticket and no reply from website booking form. The venue was basically part of the local college.

    The Northern/Midlands Witchwood contingent were out in force I'm pleased to say - although I have to admit to not having sorted my badge out yet. Andy Slack and Al Jameson were flashing their badges in an almost masonic way. I have to say that they look even better in real life (the badges - not Al and Andy!). Also had the pleasure of meeting Pete Madeley with an unmistakable Strawbs tie on!

    "Simple Visions" is a great opening number, showing some power and also some subtlety in those fabulous lyrics. The section "let us conjure magic from the moon..." is pure Cousins class.

    I felt very sorry for the lads at this stage - DC was about to introduce "The Flower And The Young Man" but DL was obviously far from happy with his monitor set up - like troopers they played on. I don't know how many of you have experienced on stage sound - but there aren't many people who can retain pitch as well as DL did without adequate monitoring. It was another great performance, but it did seem to put the band off their stride ONLY in the sense that they couldn't relax with the sound system as they should have been able. The system on the whole was good for the size of venue, but missing some bottom end oomph (you can't beat some bottom end oomph!).

    "Ghosts" was the highlight for me in the first half - its improved since I last saw it played - much tighter and more ferocity during DLs section.

    "Midnight Sun" was fabulous - a great addition to the set. I've always loved this song and it shone.

    "Shine On Silver Sun" was another strong performance - DL still seemed a little jittery with the sound, but I must emphasise that this did not affect one iota his performance.

    "Cold Steel" was affected by some problems with DL's vocal getting some feedback - he soldiered on admirably giving his usual 110%.

    "Autumn" sounded as good as ever. Something I noticed at the end of the first half which saddened me, was that DL took his guitar and all his bits and pieces (bottleneck, capo, shaker, ebow) backstage with him - I guess he's had to do this after the trauma of losing the bottleneck, albeit temporarily.

    DL's new guitar looks absolutely beautiful - actually all the guys guitars look really special. Chas still never touched the tuning on either his bass or 12 string for the entire night!!!

    A nice interval chat with fellow WWooders - and a few purchases on the merchandising stall. Bought Full Bloom and Wakeman & Cousins - pleased with both. The CDs seemed to be selling very well which is clearly good news for the band at these smaller gigs. We chatted away about the new inclusions to look forward to in the second set, but then realised we'd tempted fate and that perhaps tonight was the night for acoustic versions of "A Boy And His Dog" and "Alexander the Great" - good though they undoubtedly would have been, we were given something far far greater.

    The second half of the show was one of the greatest I have ever seen. The band were on fire - perhaps determined to show that the sound glitches had not dampened their spirits.

    "Lemon Pie" was truly great - I'd always thought of the song as one of DC's lighter numbers, but it had untold resonance tonight and DL's slide playing was perfection.

    The highlight of the night for me and most of the other WWooders was "The Antique Suite". This totally confirmed for me that Strawbs are the GREATEST BAND EVER!!! No other band could encompass such breadth in a single song. Intricate finger picking from DC throughout the song was incredibly impressive. DL and Chas were totally fluent and familiar with the song and obviously enjoying playing it (and of course they didn't play on the originals - unlike most of the other songs). DL handled most of the bits which Tony Hooper had on the original; not being unkind to Tony, but I didn't miss him. DL showed his great voice off fabulously well ranging from quiet and sensitive to strong and firm during those rousing choruses. The whole story of the song came alive... It was one of those moments which take you further from just sitting listening to a band, it was an experience and a half...

    "Oh How She Changed" sounded better than ever - DL's vocals are again the perfect replacement for Tony Hooper on this.

    "New World" really suits the acoustic format and it was played with real ferocity tonight - DL really plays with some fire - no wonder he changes his strings after every gig - they would surely not stand more than one night from DLs ferocious right hand. He seemed to be even more Pete Townshend influenced in those big power chords tonight.

    "Hard Hard Winter" was absolutely perfect. The second highlight of the evening for me. I've always loved the song, and again it came alive in the acoustic format.

    "If" was a great performance tonight - DC's vocals were softly intimate - his ability to make the audience feel totally involved with every word was completely evident on this tender and gentle song. You could have heard a pin drop - I remember thinking during this that it must be special not to have heard someone coughing away in the back rows as is usual at this time of year. All coughs and sneezes were put on hold for this magical song.

    "Lay Down" just is a great acoustic number and brings a smile to my face every time I hear it.

    "Hero And Heroine" was fabulous - I wish I could play what DC does during this song - it sounds so intricate but looks almost effortless.

    "A Glimpse Of Heaven" was the encore - lovely it was too - the poetry of the words comes alive so well in the acoustic format.

    Post gig found the North/Midlands Witchwood Chapter stunned with the sheer fabulousness of "The Antique Suite". In fact Pete and I couldn't even remember what "Down By The Sea" was called (!) we were so impressed we just hadn't missed what had previously seemed an un-removable song.

    Al and his friend had to get going, but it was nice to hear that Al's friend had been converted, like St Paul on the road to Domestos (as Peter Kay would say). A few quick words with DC of thanks for a lovely evening were all that was possible as he had some guests waiting I think. A quick chat with DL was nice, I complimented him on the beautiful guitar and of course he mentioned that it had been a gift from Ron and Kathlyn - he looked genuinely touched just at mentioning this. It certainly sounds fabulous.

    After a five minute wait Chas appeared and Andy, Pete and I had a nice chat about the gig and the future and bass pedals. Andy and I had a concerted go to get Chas to return to Witchwood - I think he felt that he might be cramping our style; but I said not. Chas and I also chatted about his bass pedals which are an excellent addition to the band - apparently he finds it straightforward to use unless he's got a capo on which completely throws him - his instincts says "You're playing an A shaped chord - play an A on the pedals" but of course the capo translates this to something else. It was of course a flawless performance from the newest member of the band. We discussed also the slightly distorted sound CHas used on the pedals for "Hero And Heroine". Didn't quite come off as it should have done due to the small PA - but in a larger venue these should sound like Taurus pedals which really give some oomph. Chas used to play Taurus pedals and told us how much he enjoyed when playing with Steve Hackett at Hammersmith Odeon he hit a low note on the pedals and the whole building shook, such was the power of the PA.

    Tonight was a real magical night - up there in my top three Strawbs gigs.


    WELL, IT WAS A GAME OF TWO HALVES JIM - Review by Paul Southby

    This was a day I thought I'd never see ... the Strawbs playing in my old home town of Chesterfield, where all those years ago as a teenager I'd sat closeted away in my parents' front room listening to their singles and albums on a gramophone record player.

    It was a strange, but ultimately very satisfying evening really. In the first half of the show the band were plagued (and I mean plagued) by sound problems largely afflicting poor Dave Lambert's end of the stage - faulty leads and connections, feedback, and all manner of squealing during some of the songs. Not at all the bands fault, but it was clearly getting to them, DL in particular who's usual facial contortions included some increasingly angry ones towards the end of the first set. Mr and Mrs Gremlin and their babies had come out to play, and they were all partying hard.

    It all contributed to a slightly edgy atmosphere by half time, and as the band came back on for the second half after a partial kit change, the signs seemed poor as DL's "testing, two, testing" into the mic was met with a banshee wail of ear-splitting proportions.

    However, someone had clearly achieved a lot during the interval, and after that the show assumed an almost magical air. "Lemon Pie" was brilliant as the opener, but "The Antiques Suite" was just majestic. You could have heard a pin drop in the audience and this version (which I think I prefer to the original, although expect to be shot for saying so) is a must for any new Acoustics album. "Oh How She Changed" was also excellent and "If", sung by DC in his "living the song mode" showed just what fantastic material these guys are still writing. I also thought - or was it just my imagination - that DC was aiming higher during "Hero And Heroine", and hitting some notes he's gone down for on recent tours.

    So we left very happy, except for the fact that the bar was closed after the show. Why the venue had hired a bar in for the night and then closed it after the interval is beyond me. I know they had also "had trouble with the printers" and not got the bills posted until about 10 days before the show which contributed to a pretty small audience of about 60 which was a shame but those of us who were there had a real treat. It really was a game of two halves: the band held their own in the face of adversity in the first half, but went on to win magnificently by the end.

    Can I say that the new Wakeman and Cousins Live album, which I bought after the show is just great, a must have for any Strawbs fan.

    And finally I do think that the more authentic Strawbsey sound with Chas back in the fold which I commented on after the Worksop concert last time is becoming better and better, even in the face of the Gremlin family's efforts to get in the way last evening. The foot pedal sounds have come on a bit I think, and the 12 string and that bit of bass after the interval make it all seem so much fuller and richer. Long may that continue


    ALL IN ALL THE BAND IS GETTING STRONGER - Review by Mike Barker

    Chesterfield never seems to do the chaps justice - neither the previous electric visit to the Winding Wheel nor this visit to the Arts Centre received any publicity. Earlier reviews have covered most of the setlist so I'll limited this to some observations about the concert itself.

    Firstly I think the setlist is much improved - "Simple Visions" is a great opener, "Antique Suite" is a tour de force that should remain for at least as long as "DBTS" and "New World", "Midnight Sun" and "Hard, Hard Winter" add to the new sound.

    The three piece harmonies are a definite plus and Chas' pedals [when they work !] add the Mellotron string effect very well; the trouble is they don't always work e.g. on "Ghosts" they were just a weedy rattle.

    Talking about "Ghosts", without the BW lead this one has lost it for me - Chas' 12-string is so low down in the mix that you struggle to identify it - how about trying "Starshine/Angel Wine" as a replacement, plenty of opportunity for DL to hammer out some power chords.

    Although there were some initial sound problems this was one of the best concerts acoustically for me and others - the vocals were well balanced and to the fore - even the vocals on "If" came across clearly.

    On the vocal front I think the sharing of lead vocals between DL and DC works well with DL's rendition of "Antique Suite" surpassing Tony Hooper's and his work on "Oh How She Changed" and "Flower" was just as excellent.

    All in all the band is getting stronger and I look forward to the next outing ......


    Setlist from Dick Greener

    Simple Visions
    The Flower And The Young Man
    Ghosts
    Midnight Sun
    Shine On Silver Sun
    Cold Steel
    Autumn

    Lemon Pie
    The Antique Suite
    Oh How She Changed
    New World
    Hard Hard Winter
    If
    Lay Down
    Hero And Heroine

    A Glimpse Of Heaven

    HALF MOON, PUTNEY, THURSDAY 13 JANUARY 2005

    HEY IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME, IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN - Review by Neil Lamb

    Well with the current frequency of touring, thankfully, it's not exactly a long time before we get to see the Strawbs again at present, but in terms of "The Antique Suite" even devoted Strawbs fans may have only ever seen this live once before, and then a long time ago for sure ! So the reappearance of this four-movement, almost symphonic, classic is a highlight of the latest set. Perhaps a bit difficult for a first-timer in the audience to fully appreciate the brilliance of its poetic lyrics and composition, but a real treat for those already familiar with the album track.

    The Half-Moon in Putney is a London Pub-venue with an almost unrivalled heritage in the rock world, and anybody who has been anybody has at some stage graced its intimate stage. The Acoustic Strawbs certainly didn't let us down tonight - they were simply awesome. I have never seen Dave Lambert be anything but consistently brilliant but it is the more variable performances of Dave Cousins which really defines the Strawbs as a live act. DC is never less than good, but when he is in top-form he lifts the band into another dimension altogether, and believe you me, tonight he was on top-form.

    DC simply gave a masterclass in vocal power, passion and phrasing. He was stunning in clarity and delivery in the powerful moments of the classics...... "New World" , "Simple Visions", "Lay Down" and "Hero and Heroine". And he was no less compelling in his lower register in the likes of "Midnight Sun", "If"and "Hard, Hard Winter". His performance was little short of phenomenal. He looked truly wrecked afterwards - he really had given it his all - great, great stuff.

    Another fantastic achievement tonight was the sound. The sound guy at the Half-Moon had connections with the Strawbs going back some thirty years - and boy did it show. What was particularly memorable was that he, in conjunction with the venue, produced an echo/reverberation/resonance effect that at times just took your breath away - truly enhancing the grandeur of the acapella and crashing, power chord moments.

    The set list was as reported by Dick for the Red Lion gig, except they finished with "Hero And Heroine", leaving room for "A Glimpse of Heaven" as the encore. The stand-out track for me at the moment is probably "Oh How She Changed", which is stunningly arranged and delivered. Dave L delivers a crystal-clear lead vocal and a stunning guitar break towards the end of the song. Chas uses the foot pedals to magnificent effect to give it a majestic,orchestral feel and the three voices harmonise to goose-bump inducing level on the title phrase. There were numerous Witchwooders present who all seemed on a bit of a euphoric high afterwards - it really was that good !

    Photos by Dick Greener


    DOUBLY MOVED - Review by Paul Brazier

    I've always detested the Half Moon in Putney. The room was far too big for a conventional folk club and the PA was always horrible. Bob Kerr's Whoopee Band used to fill the place with Bonzo Doggish noise and, in their intervals, Andy "Thunderclap" Newman used to go up and sit at the piano and syncopate (his solo album, produced by Pete Townshend, is an epitome of English eccentricity and I love it to bits). I saw Colin Scot there several times and could never hear what he was singing, despite knowing all the words to all the songs. And the nadir was the night Ralph McTell (it was his local at the time) stepped backwards from the bar, trod on my toes, spilled my beer all down my front and denied all responsibility.

    Oh, yes, the beer. I had forgot it was a tied Youngs house. Youngs bitter is truly vile and the special is only barely palatable and this used to be my local brewery. The only good thing I can say about Youngs is that the only music they have in their pubs is live music or at least it was back in the early seventies when they used to deliver all the beer within a mile of the brewery by horse-drawn dray.

    Anyway, despite these bad vibes, man, I had a good feeling about this evening and set off from Brighton with no discernible rushing (an unusual and much welcome beginning to an evening out in London). Arrived at Clapham Junction, descended into the underpass and the first announcement I heard was "The train approaching platform 11 is the 18.05 to Strawberry Hill". "Aha', I thought, "I'm in the right place."

    Arrived at Putney with the commuter flow, masses of people crowding up the stairs, then walked down Putney High Street towards the bridge (Putney Bridge Road doesn't lead to Putney Bridge, it runs parallel to the Thames and joins Putney High Street at a T-junction some way south of the bridge). Although hungry, avoided all the very expensive-looking minimalist restaurants and the burger bars and headed for the pub. My flaky memory told me there must be a fish and chip shop nearby.

    Strolled along the Lower Richmond Road, marvelling at the constant flood of commuting cyclists when I used to do this, people thought I was mad. I used to cycle from Kings Cross to Putney twice a week for an evening class, then cycle home to Tooting. Found the pub, went into the bar, and it was almost empty apart from Dave Lambert. Greeted him, then got a beer. Realised if I was going to survive Youngs beer I needed food, so stepped outside, looked along the road, and there, past the Pizza place and the Kebab house was the longed for sign fish and chips.

    It was a chinese fish and chips shop. I was just going to get a bag of chips but in a moment of insanity ordered the spicy bean burger. Spent an entertaining ten minutes examining a wall chart of all the different kinds of fish you can catch in our coastal waters and matching their ugly unfamiliarity with their familiar names.

    Stepped out of the chip shop to see Chas Cronk about to cross the road bearing a guitar case. Mumbled the usual "later" greeting and set off to sit by the river and eat, watching the bridge gleam and the buses going back and forth across it and the joggers joggling by and the aeroplanes once a minute bright and swoosh overhead. The opposite bank of the river was all in darkness. I remember once, hundreds of years ago, finding out why, but while I remember the finding out clearly, I have no memory at all of what I found out. It's all muddled, but Craven Cottage, home of Fulham Football Club, is over there somewhere, and I seem to remember that the road north of Putney Bridge leads to Hammersmiff Broadway and is called Fulham Palace Road and the Fulham Palace is the seat of some bishop who isn't the chap who lives at Lambeth Palace but the darkness on the north side of the river is the gardens of the palace and is private! I think.

    Back to the pub, I found Sue and Mike Holton from Ramsgate (appropriate in a Youngs pub did you see the Ram's Head on the wall behind the bar?), then Dick Greener and one or two others turned up, but no Lindsay. We speculated that she might be shopping for soap-on-a-rope and Dick suddenly went a deathly shade of white. [In joke for Witchwooders - you needed to be there!] There was quite a crowd of witchwooders, and Chas came over to shoot the breeze and Dave Cousins came over to have a chat with Dick. At the point DC went back, I decided to go and find out if my ticket was there. It will be an abiding memory, seeing Dave Cousins locked out of the music area and hammering on a door quite clearly marked, "Sound check in progress. No admittance."

    After Dave went in, I remained standing there and so found myself the first person in the room when the doors opened, so I picked myself a plum spot stage right where I could photograph right up Dave Lambert's nose. And surprisingly, I didn't have a very long wait. Without ceremony, the lads walked on the stage, plugged in their guitars and they launched into "Simple Visions", with Dave Cousins in full molynology mode.

    I might be a minority of one here, but I thought the sound was a bit unbalanced and there was too much feedback for my comfort. Remember, I was right in front of Lambert and in fact could hear his monitor, him directly, his chair squeaking and his contribution from the stack behind me, but he sounded like he was mixed too far down a lot of the time and I could barely hear him.

    The only addition to the set in this first half was "Midnight Sun", a wonderful song that I had forgotten I liked so much and it was good to hear it live. Cousins was in full raconteur mode between songs and looked as if he was having a good time, too. The set seemed to finish early with "Autumn", but in fact they had been playing for 45 minutes. Dave promised to be back soon as the pub enforces a strict curfew.

    Pacemakers recharged, the boys returned to the stage in 15 minutes flat and proceeded to play "Lemon Pie", a song I've never much cared for. But I will listen to anything by Cousins and will re-examine this song soon. As they were preparing for their new tour-de-force, the audience started to call out song names "Stormy Down", "Just Love" and Cousins turned to Lambert and said, "It's a good job we don't do requests!"

    I've recently been wanting to read one of the 57 novels a friend of mine has written and, last weekend, I picked, entirely at random, Messages of Love by Sam Youd (1957). It's an innocuous enough story but I hadn't fully realised when it was set until, on the train up here tonight, I read the domestic bliss being destroyed by one of the husbands going off to the trenches in the First World War. So when Dave Cousins began to sing and play "The Antique Suite", I was doubly moved. I have always thought this was one of his greatest songs but can't listen to the record because of all Wakeman's twiddling. It is so nice to hear it played properly with the voice and the words being allowed their full range.

    There was a thunderous "New World" and, again, a wonderful surprise to hear "Hard Hard Winter" again. Then "If", "Lay Down" and "Hero And Heroine" brought the show to a triumphant close, but the audience would not let them go and they came back to do a rousing "Glimpse Of Heaven" a great encore to finish off a wonderful evening.

    I've already commented on the strange sound mix. I have to say the arrangements were not as tight as I have seen in the past, but there is a lot of new material here and they are still finding their way towards a really polished set. However, it looked to me like Dave Cousins was having a ball, Chas Cronk goes from strength to strength on his range of bass, twelve-string and footpedals and vocals, and Lampoon appears to be really enjoying playing his new Dean guitar.

    I said to Dave Cousins afterwards that he looked tired. He said it wasn't the music, it was running the Witchwood business as well and they probably are both full time jobs. So I was amazed when he said he had another new song that we are going to hear at Teddington on Valentine's Day. I don't know how he does it, I'm just glad he does.

    Photos by Dick Greener


    CLASSIC SHOW - Review by Dick Greener

    Another fine show from the lads at the Half Moon in Putney, an excellent standing venue, which attracted a full house for Acoustic Strawbs' second gig of the tour. Great atmosphere, fine performance and some good backchat amongst the band on stage.

    We knew we were in for a classic night with the opener "Simple Visions", Cousins' arms flailing and in fine voice. Other highlights for me - "The Antiques Suite" of course, which I watched from the side of the stage this time, "Midnight Sun" with one of Lambert's "album note perfect" solos, and "New World" where the mellotron sounds coming from Chas's box of tricks were exceptionally good and well up in the mix. "Hard Hard Winter" was sweet and mellow, and "Hero And Heroine", which ended the set, was as boisterous and abrupt as ever. I reckon they'd switched H&H, their normal encore, into the main set as it was getting pretty late, but they were allowed back on stage anyway and pulled out "Glimpse Of Heaven" which made a great closer.

    I thought the sound was excellent, and so it should be - the engineer was a chap who'd been on duty at the Royal Festival Hall in 1970 when "Antiques Suite" was recorded!

    An excellent gig, with a good complement of Witchwooders - David Claridge up in town on business (and I have to say he hasn't got short arms at all - I had my drinking head on last night an am suffering as a result of his generosity), Lindsay, Carole and Gill (they were late so no soap), Paul Brazier, Neil Lamb, Sue and Mike Holton, Roy LeMarechal and Mike Marks.


    Photos by Dick Greener


    Setlist

    Simple Visions
    The Flower And The Young Man
    Ghosts
    Midnight Sun
    Shine On Silver Sun
    Cold Steel
    Autumn

    Lemon Pie
    The Antique Suite
    Oh How She Changed
    New World
    Hard Hard Winter
    If
    Lay Down

    Hero And Heroine

    RED LION FOLK CLUB, KINGS HEATH, SATURDAY 8 JANUARY 2005

    HE THOUGHT BACK TO THE DAYS WHEN HE WAS YOUNG - Review and recollections by Alan Phillips

    "Antiques" for me was excellent - quite beautiful songwriting and Dave Lambert did a fine job on the softer vocal parts. It sent me back 30 odd years to the last time I heard them play it live at a little club in Kidderminster, where the band received an unprecedented 5 encores!

    Never forget that gig - Frank Freeman's Club on a Sunday afternoon it was. Rick had just joined.... the announcement at the time of him joining Strawbs made front page of the Melody Maker (I remember reading even Keith Emerson had rented a box to see the band and especially the keyboard wizard... perhaps he saw him as a young pretender to his throne), quite a coup for Dave, getting him if you ask me. At the gig I recall Rick with his long blonde hair being dressed in the scruffiest looking Afghan coat you have ever seen (peace and love man). Made quite a contrast to Dave and Tony Hooper who were both (I think) dressed in rather theatrical white frilly shirts.

    I think he may have struggled with keyboard gremlins on the gig but remained unruffled and you could see that he had a special talent. Yet from my memory banks (and even though I later became a big fan of Rick's work), it was how the band played together and their collective talents that I recall more than Rick's individuality. I do remember Hud and John Ford doing an Indian thingy with sitar and tabla which was pretty cool and Dave was, as he is today, a great story teller. I even remember some of his banter about Ted Heath, who was Prime Minister at the time.

    At the end of the gig, there were five encores. Frank Freeman came on stage to explain that the band could not come back as they had a second gig to play at somewhere like Leicester Uni that same evening ... talk about a hard working band! Frank said the rapturous applause for Strawbs was unprecedented with only Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac creating the same kind of response. That was praise indeed because some fine prog rock bands were playing the club like Peter Gabriel's Genesis and Barclay James Harvest etc.

    The next day I went out and bought Antiques and Curios - it was one of my first 'proper' albums and a very considered purchase as I had just started work and only earned 7 a week (it was a long time ago). I also remember nearly choking and spitting out peas when I said come and listen to this mum, as we sat and listened, eating our tea together .... 'I feel her nipples, at my fingertips' .... not the sort of thing you wanted your mum to hear, at 17 ... well especially not in those days!

    I thought Dave's story re the doctor made the song for me even more poignant than when I first heard it. I always had a different idea in my mind about the words to "The Antiques Suite" and what it was about but I think I understand the words on a different level now, after Dave told us at the Red Lion gig how he came to write the song with his story about his friend the doctor ... quite the brilliant songwriter that he is. That is the great thing about a gig - you get to hear from Dave what lies behind the song. Anyway "Antiques Suite" made the night for me and took me back 30 odd years and I was back there sitting crossed legged on the floor as we used to do and I was 17 again!


    Photos by Dick Greener - click here for gallery


    NOT JUST A COLLECTION OF ANTIQUES AND CURIOS - Review by Dick Greener

    The Strawbs UK tour opened Sat 8th Jan at the Red Lion Folk Club, now back in its proper place, the Red Lion in Kings Heath, Birmingham. A full house, standing room only, watched support band Rhyzome turn in a creditable opening act, Helen Marsh on keyboards (vocals too usually, but had lost her voice), guitarist/mandolinist/vocalist Graham Peebles and Barry Hunt - a left-handed multi-instrumentalist/vocalist, who nonetheless plays right-handed instruments - fascinating for guitar players to watch. Hunt is the strongest vocally and instrumentally, and excelled on a version of Tom Lehrer's "Masochism Tango". Another highlight was an accapella song "Slipping Away". They are currently recording an album, check out website http://www.rhyzome.co.uk for more info.

    Most of the newly-included material is in the second set, but in the first "Simple Visions" makes an excellent opening number, though I believe "Benedictus" will be the opener where time permits. "Flower" and "Ghosts" keep up the standard till the first new song - not new to the US, where they've heard on the Oct/Nov tour, but new to the UK (apart from those few who saw a pilot version back at the warm up for the Sept '04 tour). It's a gift for Acoustic Strawbs, with the acoustic solo lovingly recreated by Dave Lambert, and Chas on 12-string. The rest of the first set follows the pattern of the previous tours, with "Cold Steel" pretty powerful, and "Autumn" nearly had the crowd up on its feet (we Brits don't often do the standing ovation thing, but that was as near as dammit!)

    Aha! As the second set opens Chas on bass for the first number - he stayed with the bass pretty much throughout the second set, which is much to be welcomed, nice though the 12-string is! "Lemon Pie", briefly resurrected a few years back, lacked the fluid basslines and the sound bottom end that this version has - the three vocalist accapella section was stunning too.

    But now the treat of treats: not performed live since 1970, the stunning "Antique Suite" in all its glory. It's slightly gentler in its opening that the frenetic harpsichord workout which Wakeman provided, but builds well through the first segment "The Reaper", segueing into the beautiful opening melody of "We Must Cross The River", where Cousins has made a slight change to the words in one voice (I'll leave it to him to tell you why). Lambert handles Tony Hooper's vocal part sensitively on the quiet soulful patches, and belts it out where needed. Chas had switched to 12-string for that second section, and whilst he changes back to bass, Chas's pedals provide a link to the third section "Antiques and Curios". Again primarily harpsichord in its earlier incarnation, but now Lambert picks out a riff (shades of "Cold Steel" almost) which perfectly matches Cousins' vulnerable vocal. Another Chas link to the final section; during the link DC has to tune down two strings as he is playing (probably why they gave up playing this way back when). "Hey It's Been A Long Time" alternates between the subdued verses and the boisterous singalong chorus, which closes out this epic piece. A spectacular delight for Strawbs fans of any vintage - a thrill to see it performed live, which I'd really never thought possible until recently (a clue was Dave playing me a bit of it after the last Witchwood Board Meeting!).

    And we're not done yet - after "Oh How She Changed", "New World" is back, both with bass and with Chas on pedals creating the illusion that a mellotron is back at work underpinning this quintessential Strawbs song. Then, bringing up the rear of the new contenders, a splendid recreation of "Hard Hard Winter" from Deep Cuts; always one of my favourite tracks from that album (the beautiful little production touches - "as cold as icccce at highest noon"), Chas's bass is perfect, and again the three vocals give it a power and sweetness to match the recorded version.

    Not of course to denigrate the remainder of the set - "If", the accapella-start "Lay Down", and "Hero And Heroine" the usual blistering encore. Antiques and curios - maybe ? but there certainly "no need to be dismayed" by tonight's performance.



    PLENTY OF ANTIQUES .... MORE THAN A HINT OF CURIOSITY - Review by Nigel Bennett

    The trip up to the Red Lion is becoming a bit of a regular jaunt these days as the Acoustics returned to the venue for a second time in 12 months. Unlike our iconic webmaster I am not up at 3 a.m. penning this little review. He easily beat me on that score and I concede to him in a most humble fashion but at least I got some sleep. Perhaps I can even the score by making a claim to be first to announce the first gig for 2006 - a return to the same venue in January next year.

    It was good to see so many friends in attendance, Bob and Louise et al, and the band were certainly in good voice introducing a number of new songs to the set, in front of an enthusiastic audience, tightly packed into the venue.

    A mention here for Alisdair (should that be Alistair ?). Throughout the entire performance and the very late finish he sat in his Strawbs tee shirt in the front row clearly enjoying his night out.. A dedication to him, from DC, at the start of the second set as the youngest fan (don't lets go down that route - I'm sure there are others) introduced him, but by then, the lad had already announced proudly to Dick and I, that he was not seven but eight in three days (Tuesday). Perhaps he will read this on his birthday and remember the evening. Happy Birthday Alisdair.

    The first set included songs that had been included on the last UK tour with the exception of course of "Midnight Sun" (which Dick in his late night review failed to mention by its title, although it was there in description and set list - we can forgive him that given the hour [oops - DG]). I had really been looking forward to hearing this live and having missed out on the first airing to those Stateside, the atmosphere of the song really shone through and was well worth the wait. One of the evening's highlights.

    The set closed with a perfect "Autumn" and the audience reaction at the end fully captured why everyone was here. Great musicians, great songs and fantastic playing, we were all enthralled, the interval disappeared quickly, but did have chance to catch up with Steve from San Diego, who just happened to be in town on a business trip. Lucky chap.

    Rumours had been circulating about the changes in the set list but no one except the band (fortunately !) and perhaps Mr G knew what was in store.

    Opening with "Lemon Pie" the second set continued swiftly by something, I guess, even through recent tours we never thought would be heard live again. With plenty of antiques in the audience (we know who we are) and with more than a hint of curiosity, the opening notes of the epic were played , solely by DC, before the various movements built and subsided through their various guises with many in the audience supporting each chorus, building as each element passed, until the final crescendo. An Antiques and Curios masterpiece.

    Not even an inkling that we would see "Hard Hard Winter", from Deep Cuts, but here we were again sampling the delights of a song resurrected again for a live show after a long absence. This song is one that carries a couple of lines, that I often ponder "She wasted her life - having fun " is it a statement, a challenge, a way of living, right, wrong, good, bad ? I really don't know, seems quite profound to me and it certainly makes me think and re-evaluate where I am am coming from. We were certainly having fun this night and there was definitely nothing wrong on that score.

    A return of an old favourite, deserves mention, as after a rest for the last tour "New World" returned with added input from Chas, both on bass and pedals which certainly adds to the power of the song. It has returned after that rest with increased impact and power and was extremely well received.

    The threesome certainly take performances to new levels and the introduction of the new material worked extremely well for us concert regulars who had to be "gently" coerced out of the venue by the local officials, for talking too long, at the end of the evening.

    Didn't they realise Strawbs were in town !


    BRAVE NEW STRAWBS - Review by Eamonn Harvey

    It must be tempting for artists with a dedicated fan base (or 'cult' following as the music journos would have it) to bring out the crowd pleasers and old favourites on every outing. Acoustic Strawbs went a stage further on Saturday night and we were treated to some 'deep cuts' into their back pages. "The Antique Suite" was the highlight of the evening for me --this epitomises that 'ancient troubadour sound' of the band's early work and it was eerie to hear Dave Lambert mirror Tony Hooper's vocal sound so effectively.

    The Hero and Heroine album was very well represented. The harmonies on "Shine On Silver Sun" superb. "Autumn" was simply breathtaking. Surprisingly only two songs from Deja Fou were featured. Perhaps they're saving this for the electric tour. Brian Willoughby must be a hard act to follow but Chas added some colour to the songs with the pedals and his 12 string playing was superb. D.C. was in a jocular mood all evening and it was great to chat with him and Chas. Thanks guys.

    Photo by Dick Greener


    Please enable Javascript to view Strawbsweb

    . Click on my name to e-mail me.