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JAN/FEB 2005

Part 1 - First leg - 8 to 26 January

The Bein Inn, Glenfarg, Thursday 27 January 2005
  • Unusual Excuse - Tales from the Road - Comment from Dave Cousins
  • Wondering Where The Time Had Gone - Review and photo by David Preston
  • The Bein Inn, Glenfarg, Friday 28 January 2005
  • Review and pictures by Jim Corstophine
  • Rattan and Rush, Kirkby Stephen, Saturday 29 January 2005
    Arts Centre, Bridgwater, Friday 4 February 2005
  • Do You Come Here Often? - Review by Neil Punnett
  • Magnificent! - Review by Nigel Bennett
  • Setlist from Nigel Bennett
  • Footlights, West Chiltington, Saturday 5 February 2005
  • Stories Set To Enlighten And To Be Enjoyed - Review by Clive Price
  • An Excellent Night With A Very Appreciative Crowd - Review by Steve Pritchards
  • Setlist from Steve Pritchards
  • Arc, Stockton-on-Tees, Thursday 10 February 2005
  • At The End Of The Set Before You Know It - Review by Alison Brown
  • Photo from Alison Brown - more pictures from Alison
  • Just Sublime - Comments from Peter Craggs
  • Setlist from Alison Brown
  • Folk House, Bristol, Friday 11 February 2005
    Folk House, Bristol, Friday 11 February 2005 and St Claire's, Seaton, Saturday 12 February 2005
  • Never Was "A Glimpse Of Heaven" So Appropriate - Review and setlists by Nigel Bennett
  • Setlist
  • St Claire's, Seaton, Saturday 12 February 2005
  • The Trees Were Bare But Spring Was Near - Review by Adrian the Rock
  • National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, Monday 14 February 2005
  • A Witchwood Wonderland - Review by Paul Brazier
  • Photo from Sue Holton - more of Sue's photos
  • Power And Intricacy - Review by Dick Greener
  • Photo from Alison Brown - more photos fromAlison
  • All My Own Work - review by Nigel Bennett
  • Beyond Any Words - review by Carole Cook
  • Highlights Without Lowlights - review by Lindsay Sorrell
  • Setlist

  • Setlist

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

    Just My Way Of Loving You [DC solo] Lemon Pie
    The Antique Suite
    Oh How She Changed
    New World
    Hard Hard Winter
    Lay Down
    Hero And Heroine



    A WITCHWOOD WONDERLAND - Review by Paul Brazier

    It only took me three hours to get to the Teddington gig tonight. I was beginning to wonder if I would be there before the off, but wandering through the strangely deserted streets of Teddington and NPL, I looked up, and, as has become usual for these Strawbs gigs, the sky was astonishingly clear, the moon shone its sickle-ey light and the stars were speared holes in the velvet night. I tripped over a sign that was intended to tell pedestrians how to find the sports club, and arrived ten minutes before the advertised beginning and there were still sound checks going on.

    Got beer. Well, ale, actually. Something called dark and strong, brewed locally. I do love a good old ale. And this was a very good old ale. Saw Alison and her magnificent new camera. Vowed to upgrade as soon as I found a good reason. Saw Dick and arranged putative lift home if I didn't make my train deadline. Bought a badge – I must be mad. I don't even know where it is now.

    Had a long chat with Chas. He was wearing black socks and black knickers. He said. So I asked him about who chooses what songs and why and he said he had suggested a couple of the new ones, including "Midnight Sun", but "Lemon Pie" was a song the two Daves had tried with Brian and found it didn't work. They like it with the bass to hold it down. It's frothy. He's a bit nervous about having to do a solo spot next weekend. He said he has never sung a lead vocal before. As I pointed out, I have. I used to sing in the Shakespeare's Head in Carnaby Street, and in fact there is a photograph of me singing "The Battle". Anything I can do, Chas can do standing on his head. I'm sure he'll do famously, and look forward to the reports.

    Just as a teaser, he said they wanted to bring more songs back into the act and he thought I, as an old-time Strawbs fan, would like the choices, but he wouldn't be drawn on what they were.

    Stood by the door talking to Alison and Sue and nearly got second-guessed into not getting a seat. Got the last chair on my favoured right-hand side. It wasn't terrifically full so the Strawbs came in and got to the stage fairly readily. And I had a lovely view, all three members of the band visible only partially microphone-obscured, and the seated people in front of me not in the way at all.

    It was the exact same set we have heard reported over and over on this tour, except that the encore was "Witchwood" (once Lampoon and Cronk had worked out what DC's nods and winks meant) and the much-trailed new song. The mix was a bit loud for me, and very trebly, but acceptable.

    The usual beginning, "Simple Visions", had Cousins flapping fit to fly and Lambert nicely lit and leaning back a bit which made for lots of photo opportunities and I shot a whole 128mb stick in that first song. Changed sticks in the interval, started again and the camera packed up. Phut. Everything was working, but no image was showing up. So I had to sit and fiddle while the Strawbs burned for you.

    Gosh, but DC was in good voice tonight. And the silliness, that was good too. Lots of banter between DC and DL about Richmond and shirt-lifters. It seems DC relaxes into these end-of-tour gigs, and the sparks fly – quite literally, if he ever gets his banjo wired up the way he describes.

    I felt autumn coming on, and with it the mid-session interval, so when the chords finally died away, I leapt out of my seat and accosted Lindsay in order to get my Valentine cuddle and kiss. Lindsay, in her own inimitable fashion, had walked in as "Simple Visions" began, so I had not had a chance to meet and greet.

    I invited her outside to continue the valentine celebrations, but somehow we only got as far as the bar. I got us drinks in and Claridge turned up to offer us more as we lifted our recently-charged glasses. He assumed no but we said yes to fuel us for the second half.

    I espied Dave Cousins standing by the door and as I approached him he murmured, ladies and gentlemen, the show will resume soon, so I dashed back to my chair and was in place nicely for when he came in and announced his new song.

    "Just My Way of Loving You" is a typical Dave Cousins love song, poignant and edgy. but after a few lines, it did seem to have rather a long instrumental bridge – then Dave leaned into the microphone and said, "d'you know, I wrote the words out earlier" – to gales of laughter – "and the second half of that bleedin' verse I didn't put down 'cos I know it so well...". And so he started again. And sang the new song all the way through with perhaps a little more emphasis on the guitar at times. I'm never sure, but this sounded like a tune I already knew but with new words. I shall have to think on it.

    The second set was as already mentioned, familiar from previous concerts on this tour, but there did seem to be an extra verve and fizz to the singing and playing. It seems invidious to dismiss this as the same as before, but there are no further superlatives to deliver. The Strawbs played and sang. What higher praise could I offer?

    It proved impossible for the band to leave the stage and be called back for an encore, so they just sat there and then launched into not "A Glimpse Of Heaven" as before and not "We'll Meet Again Sometime" as hinted in the intro, but a rousing and very final "Witchwood". And then he refused absolutely to sing any more and headed for the bar.

    In the bar, Dick was admirably solicitous in trying to get me to leave, but Sue offered to buy me another pint of that wonderful Old, so Dick had a half and Lindsey had another red wine and we all had a wonderful chat and then decided we would leave and somehow we had Lindsay and Carol with added Claridge in the back of the car. We took Claridge to his hotel, which must have been all of a hundred yards from the club where we had been listening to the concert, but took fifteen minutes of circumnavigating Bushy park. And then the famous race-crawl around the south circular to drop me at Clapham Junction. The clock in Dick's car has always been set in sync with someone like Indonesia so it is impossible to know what the time really is. [DG - 30 mins fast - works for me.]

    I was hurled out of the car at Clapham Junction having had appropriate goodnight busses from Lindsay and a suitably unseatbelted Carol and a pretend mwaah! from Dick to find I had the plastic pint glass with Lindsay's red wine in it in my hand. Off they drove and off I ran – there were people emerging from the station!

    I dashed through the cluster of rushing numbskulls, hurtled up the stairs, and found although I thought I was late for my train, in fact it was in the station. I rushed, dodging through the massed crowds, clutching my plastic cup and slapped the door open button – and the train pulled out! Bugger!

    Now the reason for all this rush was that the last train, the one that goes an hour later than this one, at the moment terminates at Three Bridges and you get turfed out onto a bus that then takes you to Brighton. I hate long-distance bus travel, and it makes you really late getting home – like, four o'clock in the morning.

    So I caught the next train, which only went as far as Gatwick. And got out at Gatwick and saw that my train to Three Bridges (it's only a couple of miles away) was going to be another fifty minutes. So I went and got a taxi home. Fifty quid, Claridge, that's what it cost! And all your fault! But I did get home just before two, which is when I would have got home. With, ringing in my ears, Lindsay's final exhortation – you will write it up, won't you? We love the way you tell the story.

    How can a man deny his audience? It's now four in the morning, and I have to get up in three hours. If I hadn't had that taxi, I would just be coming in now. Was it worth it? I dunno. All I know is I had a wonderful evening, Strawbs music par excellence, a superb new song, and some excellent friendly company and badinage. How can you put a price on that?

    You Americans and Canadians and Norwegians – we entrust our Strawbs to you for a short while but we want them back safely and soon. At the end of concerts recently Dave Cousins has been standing up and promising "we'll see you all again in another thirty years". Tonight, he declaimed "we'll see you all again in six weeks"! Dick, when you get back from America, let us know what he meant. Please. I want to see our band again as soon as possible.

    Meantime, I must to bed. I have to persuade a doctor at ten o'clock that I am ill and should not go to work.

    Photo by Sue Holton - click here for more.

    POWER AND INTRICACY - Review by Dick Greener

    Teddington always seems to bring out the best in our boys and last night was no exception. From the opening strains of "Simple Visions" to the much-deserved encore, an energetic "Witchwood", it was a splendid and vibrant performance, a powerhouse of which the engine has been finely tuned over the last few weeks since that opening preview gig in early January.

    A particular highlight for me, unexpectedly (not because I don't like the song, but just because it's a long-term part of the Acoustics' set and I'm used to it), was "Ghosts". Dave Lambert's new Dean guitar (thanks be to Boomer!) seems to have encouraged him to play some very enthusiastic rhythm guitar in this song, and the keynote of this line-up is now as much raw power - both vocally and instrumentally - as the intricacy and interweaving of often rather more delicate guitar parts which the key feature of the Willoughby line-up. The bass pedals had a stonking good volume level for once, ranging from the sinister growling menace of the synthesiser which added so much to "Ghosts", through the rather "churchy" organ sound behind "The Winter Long" to the strings sound which underpins "Oh How She Changed". The more I hear them, the more I'm certain that their addition was a masterstroke, adding many sonic weapons to the band's armoury.

    "Midnight Sun" has matured nicely, the vocal harmonies of the Hero and Heroine line-up in full swing, and the song produced happy smiles from the nodding heads seated cross legged at the Acoustic Strawbs' feet, as did "Autumn", another perennial favourite, which attracted a prolonged and justifiable ovation at the end of the first set.

    Dave's new song, "Just My Way of Loving You" is, as Paul describes above, a typical and excellent Cousins love song, with some fine lyrical word play. A perfect Valentine's Day piece, just Dave and a guitar. The song was started as long ago as 1973/74, but was finished recently and is expected to be included on the new duo album Dave is recording with German prog-rocker Conny Conrad. DC came up behind me in the bar before the show started (frightened the life out of me) and hauled me off to listen to three or four very early rough tracks on a borrowed ghetto blaster. Lots of mellotron and room for some keening guitar solos, this will be one for Strawbs fans, no doubt: one track reminded me of "Down By The Sea" in all its orchestral/mellotronic brilliance. Watch this space.

    "Lemon Pie", the set two opener, has real vocal panache, again the H/albtrack/ghosts vocal line in full swing. It certainly needs the bass to anchor it - Chas sticks with bass for most of the second half, which really takes the temperature up, and keeps things cooking.

    "The Antique Suite" continues to knock peoples' socks off, and so it should: it's brilliant instrumentally, with Dave C retuning his guitar between sections as he goes - a fine trick - and both Dave's vocals perfectly fitting the various movements - the first, lonely and powerless, the second calm and tranquil, alternating with the rousing chorus, the third redolent of the loneliness and emptiness of a deceased person's home, and the final fourth section, the quirky verse, and the massed ranks choral ending. A tour de force, getting better and better. Who needs Wakeman (just joking, Rick!)

    And "Oh How She Changed" had bags of oomph tonight too, another song which has to have a strong vocal line to work - previously "owned" by the UK band with four vocals, this acoustic lineup has made it theirs. Be interesting to see whether at Joe Langer's gig as John F is there they could add him in on vocals on this or any other song ("Witchwood ?" "Cold Steel" ? both of which John now features in his set). But there'll be no real time for any rehearsing - we'll see.

    "Hard Hard Winter" is very effective now, again garnering some happy smiles. Lambert's vocals were a tiny bit loud on this and, for me that jarred slightly, as I expect the chorus to be smooth and Jeffrey Lesser-polished, and on this sound system, they were a bit more raucous than I'd have liked. "Lay Down" has a new lease of life with the energy pumped into it by the two guitars, bass and powerful vocals - the accapella opening is really stunning.

    "Hero And Heroine" continues to evolve (I'm certain I caught DL adding a few new phrases in here and there to keep this one fresh, as was also the case in "Ghosts"). This was the only song where I thought the bass overpowered a little rather than added, but then I was perched next to the left hand speaker where presumably the bass was more dominant. And the final encore, a resounding "Witchwood", a welcome return to the set.

    There were a significant number of Witchwood members present, with the new Witchwood badge getting mentioned on stage, and Chas proudly wearing it and "outing" himself as a Witchwood member). Daves Cousins and Lambert were both in fine bantering form throughout, with various running jokes of a mildly salacious nature popping up throughout the set, giving the whole experience a feeling of being a performance in front of a crowd of friends - and there certainly were a host of those in attendance. And certainly the Acoustic Strawbs will have lost no friends at all last night.

    Photo by Alison Brown - click here for more.

    ALL MY OWN WORK - review by Nigel Bennett

    Well after Paul and Dick's reviews what can I say - well here goes :-

    If you like this is the missing link - the first time this particular gathering of the coven 'Witchwooders' (described by Dave Cousins for those who arrived at 6 pm.) had been together for a while. The band were playing at the behest of Tony Grimmer for one night in the Clubhouse at the NPL.

    "Would you like to smile for me" asked Adie the Rock, with his beetle glasses and big bushy beard, as he snapped away madly. Great !!

    Mike I remember, laid on the floor that many others were already spread out on. Kevin and Jan almost fell backwards off their chairs as the sound boomed from the speakers.

    Sue ("the one with the great legs!" - quote from DC not mine) and Ali all the way from "up north" sat on the floor all night right at the feet of the band, capturing their every move, on their rather smart digi's.

    Paul, much more reserved, did the same from the comfort of a chair, closing his eyes frequently to take in the view.

    Dave Lambert almost hit me between the ears with his guitar as he returned to the stage for the second set.

    Claridge had turned up for the evening in his off the peg, Tesco two piece pinstripe. But then - he fancied Carol and Lindsay and also almost everyone else and had already booked his £45 a night dive, by the hour, just in case he struck lucky.

    The band waited for Lindsay to show and Lindsay kept them waiting

    The NPL staff smiled, before introducing Sarah, to the biggest plate of chips anywhere in the world. Enough to remove any throat warts and satisfy even Dick's appetite, after he had missed ordering his food by 30 seconds.

    The earth may not have moved for this gathering of "Witchwooders" tonight, but with the sound man getting every possible sound, from the speakers in this small hall, the floor was vibrating to the sound of the bass lines, leaving everyone to smile.

    Badges flowed like water, the songs flowed like fine wine,

    Chas wore his badge all night and DC smiled at the gathered throng and secret society. In fact we all smiled.

    But, heaven knows what happened in Dick's taxi.

    Ah looking back, those were the days.

    BEYOND ANY WORDS - review by Carole Cook

    I thought I'd add my twopenneth worth. It certainly was a night to remember. The concert was beyond any words I could come up with although Paul, Dick and Nigel have found them and have really said it all. For me the highlight again was "Oh How She Changed", I hope that never gets left off the setlist, closely followed by "The Antique Suite". "Hero and Heroine" was superb and for me the acoustic version is really exciting, but that's just me probably. DC and DL were on very good form banter-wise. I'm hoping that Chas' solo spot will lead to him doing something similar on tour - it would be good to hear more from him. Such a cherub - he helped me drag Lindsay out the door.

    It was great to meet up with other Witchwooders, especially our photographer Alison and her camera which, after close inspection in a dim light without me specs, is definitely the one for me. However I'm a bit suspicious of Claridge's claim that the "welcome to the fold handshake" is a grope of the new member's left buttock, which incidentally he had already demonstrated. Would other established members please confirm he has his facts straight?

    It seemed as if the band had waited for Lindsay. With ten minutes to kick-off we were hopping about outside The Railway pub at Teddington station waiting for a cab to take us to what we later found out to be a two minute walk to the NPL cricket pavilion. The cab driver didn't know where he was going and neither did we, so nothing new there then. We made it just in time to hear the warming opening of "Simple Visions". I was rather disappointed Lindsay didn't wear her fake fur coat as I was sporting matching fake boa ..... maybe next time.

    As related by Paul, lovely huggy Dick gave four of us a lift back to our various destinations. What occurred in the car will remain untold for fear of rumours spreading.

    Many thanks to Dick for the lift and have a great trip. Same to our lads.

    HIGHLIGHTS WITHOUT LOWLIGHTS - review by Lindsay Sorrell

    It was indeed most thoughtful of the band to wait for Carole and I to arrive. Slightly puzzled to see a distinct lack of red carpet waiting to greet us - only a minor oversight though so I don't want to sound critical. Following protracted debate about how to get into the cricket pavilion we spotted Dick's head bobbing about through a window (it was joined to the rest of his body thankfully) and we therefore headed in that direction. Carole and I were warmly greeted by various members of the Fellowship (the pervasive status of the Society was later hinted at by the Grand Master himself as he unfurled his trouser leg. By the way, I have to mention this here – socks just don't do it for Carole and me. Must be part of an exotic sub-culture specific to North America). Anyway, one of my all-time faves, "Simple Visions", began to ring out loud and clear. The band often opened with "Simple Visions" way back in the mid-1970s and it still seems the perfect opening song to me, putting everyone in the best of moods as it does.

    Spotted Dick and Adie near the front, while lesser spotted Claridge and Nigel plus daughter Sarah were hanging about towards the rear of the hall. Tried to avoid them (not Nigel's lovely daughter, of course) but to no avail, so made the best of it. Gave Claridge back his teeth which he told me he was going to try out on Carole's posterior to make sure they still worked ok. I told him best not to put them in his mouth first and he agreed.

    The gig really was an experience beyond the inadequacies of description of the English language yet again - someone commented in the car on the way back that they had been reduced to tears a couple of times, so powerful was the emotion generated by the band's performance throughout both sets. I admitted that I too had found myself with tears in my eyes more than once. I AM being serious here. Is it possible to have highlights without lowlights? If so, "Cold Steel" and "Lemon Pie" were yet more highlights for me, as were "Midnight Sun" and "Autumn" yet again, and of course it was wonderful to hear Dave's new song, "Just My Way of Loving You". How romantic for St. Valentine's night.

    Brilliant to see Alison again – sorry Ali, I am so unobservant that I am clearly the only person who didn't notice your new camera. Looking forward to seeing the shots though. "World-Tour" Sue and hubby Mike – great to catch up with you briefly too but there's never enough time is there? (The PMS by the way could not be present as he was spending the evening with Princess Anne. Ok, not her alone, but he was playing with a Blues Brothers band at the Mayfair Hilton - a charity bash for Save the Children, with HRH The Princess Royal there as Patron. He glimpsed Her back for about 2 seconds apparently and also spotted Ed "Stewpot" Stewart and Anne Diamond in the crowd, while to eat his meal he sat between Marilyn Monroe and Austin Powers look-alikes. Glitterati indeed). Speaking of other halves on this night of love, it became clear to me that Claridge clearly has masochistic tendencies – he confessed to me that his wife treats him in much the same way I do! Right on Sister Claridge!

    Adie, lovely to have a chat again and Nigel – honestly I do solemnly swear that I HAD put my Witchwood badge on my silver lurex hotpants in the morning in readiness, thinking "Ooooh, mustn't forget my badge again", then of course it was freezing cold in the evening so I wore something else entirely (though I was not going to wear my fake fur and run the risk of being compared to a hairy caterpillar again). In my great rush to catch a train after college/ferrying kids/karate/Girl Guides/feeding the menagerie etc. I forgot the badge yet again. Humblest apologies to all concerned; it almost made it out of the house and I think we should all give it a clap for that truly wonderful step forward at this time in its life.

    It was wonderful to see all members of the band looking so happy and relaxed both on and off stage. They all looked positively radiant and Dave C. bubbled fit to burst talking about how well things have been going. Great to see Rob Harvey again too – he had a mention in Bursting at the Seams blurb, I think he was Road Manager at the time (?) The last time I saw him, which I believe was at a Cry No More gig a few years ago, I remember we reminisced about motorbikes (I seem to remember we both had Hondas – he a Goldwing and I a 125. He had then whipped out his keyring and shown me a photo of his little granddaughter. This time we didn't talk motorbikes, but once again he whipped out his keyring to show me an up-to-date photo of his 11-year old granddaughter! Dιjΰ vu!

    The gig had to come to an end, sadly, though thankfully it appears we should not be kept waiting too long for our next instalment. By way of consolation, the car journey would have been hard for any red-blooded woman to endure, crushed next to Claridge's youthful, rippling musculature as I was. I had been trying to remember who he reminded me of all evening and then the uncanny resemblance to Clark Kent dawned on me. Hmmmm. "Au revoir, but not goodbye", Mr. Claridge. I was blind but now I see. I subsequently caught Paul's eye through the headrest (sorry) and it became clear he wanted something. "Surely not..." I thought "....Grab-a-Granny night is not until Thursday ...." As we eventually reached his station he bamboozled Carole and me with offers of goodnight kisses. Call me naοve if you like, I have been accused of such in the past, but the extent of his desire was unclear to me and following the confusion of the moment it was not until I saw him legging it up the road glugging my beaker of wine that his true intentions towards me became clear. Love-rat!

    The man with his honour intact remains Dick. He truly deserves an enormous round of applause at the very least for his driving round London, dropping us all safely to our required destinations – honestly Dick I realise that was one pig of a journey and I am extremely grateful to you, as I'm sure are all my fellow travellers. That was way beyond the call of duty and I owe you. By the way I know I must have had the short arms last night – I'm sure I arrived home with more money than I left with. I do apologise for this oversight everybody and absolutely intend to put matters right when next we all meet up.

    All that remains for me to say is have a wonderful time over there in the US of A and Canada, look after our favourite fruits and get to as many gigs as you can. I am acutely aware that some of you will get to see not only Acoustic Strawbs, plus Chas and Dave Lambert doing their own things too, but also John Ford who I'm sure will delight those of you who have not previously had the pleasure. Take enough dollars to buy whatever cds are available too - you will surely live a life of regret otherwise.

    THE CAST (in no particular order)

    Dick Greener.........Sober, generous yet dependable taxi driver
    David Claridge......Clark Kent
    Nigel Bennett........Cheeky chappie with moustache and daughter
    Adie.........................Exuberant fan with bushy beard and specs
    The Strawbs..........Didn't they do "Part of the Union"??
    Rob Harvey............Doting grandpa with penchant for keyrings
    Carole.....................Kind Charlie's Angel with bag full of tuc biscuits
    Alison......................Photographer extraordinaire with Northern accent
    Paul Brazier...........Cunning, heartless wine thief
    Sue Holton.............Resting superstar
    Mike Holton............Michael Palin
    Myself......................Refined, highly sophisticated lady of Essex
    Crowd scenes.......Strawbs' nuts


    THE TREES WERE BARE BUT SPRING WAS NEAR - Review by Adrian the Rock

    At last, at last, I finally managed to catch up with the Strawbs last night - and a great gig it was too.

    True to form I've completely forgotten exactly what the setlist was. I'm sure Nigel will put us out of our misery shortly, but from memory it was pretty close to Stockton's except, naturally enough, with "A Glimpse Of Heaven" for the encore. Branscome is literally the next-but-one village along the coast. The band's love of this area may also be in part a reflection of the village between the two, which I discovered is called Beer. Yes, really! My friend (Alexis) and I decided to set out mid afternoon from Honiton and drive through Branscome on the way down. It really is as lovely as the song suggests. There were many snowdrops in flower along the roadside verges, and one house in the village sported a really gorgeous selection of polyanthus and other colourful flowers. The trees were bare but spring was near - just as in the song!

    We didn't stop to take any photos, but as a result I did manage to find the tram station just in time to catch the afternoon's last return trip to the far end of the line. But as there were only the two of us, and there was enough to see just admiring the river Ax estuary and the hundreds and hundreds of birds parked along it, we didn't really have time for the 'May you rot...' bit! (In fact the tramway does special birdspotters' trips on some days, when the tram goes up to where the birds are and then stays there for a decent amount of time, in case anyone's interested.)

    When we got back we had a quick look round the town and then sought refreshments. I managed to find a pretty decent pint of Black Sheep in a pub just down the road to the venue, then it was time to grab a quick bite before heading up there. As we arrived we bumped into Nigel and his son plus Bob and Louise who had come down from Birmingham - great to see some familiar faces again.

    Before the start I popped out for a quick fag, only to encounter Chas doing the same, so I said hello and introduced myself and this immediately led into a wide-ranging conversation about a number of things, including the stars in the sky and of course Claridge! :)

    Of course this was the first time I'd heard the new lineup, and I found the change in style very pleasant, if I did miss perhaps a bit of the intricacy that Brian's guitar had provided. But the addition of the pedals certainly made for a fuller sound, and it was good to hear "New World" back on the set list. The fact that DL was only playing a very restrained form of the power chords was more than counterbalanced by DC's very powerful singing, he really put his heart into this song and it rocked.

    I really enjoyed the other additions to the set list too. I don't think I've ever heard "The Antiques Suite" live before, and it well lived up to the expectations I'd gathered from the earlier reviews. "Midnight Sun" was great too, and I particularly enjoyed "Oh How She Changed", which I guess I can't have heard live since the days when Tony was last with the band.

    Afterwards I went and bought a copy of the live Rick+Dave album - which I had accidentally forgotten to order last time I visited the Witchwood Records website.

    Oh, and finally, as I know the lasses here will be demanding to know this: DC's were red, and DL's and Chas's both were black. No attempt was made by anyone to remove any of them! :) [DG- a running Witchwood group joke - socks, in case anyone needs to know {grin}]

    Set Lists for both Bristol and Seaton

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

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

    A Glimpse Of Heaven


    NEVER WAS "A GLIMPSE OF HEAVEN" SO APPROPRIATE - Review and setlists by Nigel Bennett

    Attending gigs on consecutive nights gives me an opportunity to reflect and compare one against the other.

    The Folk House in Bristol on a wet and windy Friday night was the culmination of a day out in that particular metropolis with other friends. The night in Seaton, a quick dash after commitments earlier in the day. Both venues were pretty packed, with Seaton sold out and Bristol with around 200 squeezing into the venue.

    Interestingly, there was a huge contrast between audiences although each responded in its own way to the evening's entertainment. The Bristol audience was ebullient and enthusiastic from the start. Even the welcome as the boys hit the stage was at a level that made you think this was going to be a good and special night - it was! By contrast, the following night it was much more reserved, but just as welcoming. Perhaps indicative of the smaller nature of the venue. Indeed the four front rows could easily have fitted in to the space left at the front of the stage in Bristol.

    The other major contrast was the sound system which in Bristol belted out a high volume of sound whilst in Seaton it was more demure. Each had its own effects on performances of the songs and without looking at each individually, I felt that the louder numbers had greater impact in Bristol, songs such as "If" actually worked really well in Seaton.

    So what else do I recall. Well, at a particular moment in a crescendo of sound and piercing vocals of "New World" in Bristol one of the balloons, hanging in the venue, burst with a loud bang.

    The standing ovations before and after the encore, described to me as similar to Stateside. Bristol was almost like an electric gig, as quite a number of heads nodded ferociously, in rhythm, to the beat of the music.

    DC reading the letter, as he introduced the second half, from a school teacher in Skegness who related to a song she had played her class and the kids thoughts about the teacher and the Strawbs. Hilarious

    O.K , Seaton was genteel by comparison, but no less enjoyable. After all, how often do you get to hear the songs played so close to their development. We were so close to Branscombe you could almost touch it and with many songs written local village halls, a sense of a homecoming. Never was finishing with "A Glimpse Of Heaven", so appropriate.

    Setlist from Alison Brown

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

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



    AT THE END OF THE SET BEFORE YOU KNOW IT - Review by Alison Brown

    The Arc in Stockton is a modern three-storey purpose-built facility housing a theatre, music venue, and cinema. It is just yards from the former Radio Tees premises where Dave Cousins took up the job of Programme Controller when he left the Strawbs in 1980. It is also built on the site of the Dovecot Arts Centre where Dave and Brian Willoughby played in the early 1980s.

    [DG - the Dovecot is also the site of the first ever live performance by yours truly - Dick Greener!!! Hallowed ground indeed {grin}]

    With all these Strawbs connections and a CAMRA (CAMpaign for Real Ale) beer festival on in the theatre part of the Arc, it promised to be a special night.....and it was.

    It was a novelty to be within taxi distance of a Strawbs gig and this allowed me to sample some of the 41 real ales on tap. How could I resist with names like Monkman's Slaughter, Tabatha the Knackered, and Radgie Gadgie!

    The main arena is called 'The Point' and I've never been to a seated 'do' there before and was intrigued to find that a tiered floor pulled out and housed some fixed rows of seats interspersed with tables and chairs. A decent sized crowd with the music also being piped through to the ones who were 'only here for the beer' in the theatre.

    The sign of a good night, for me, is that the music and chat just flows and you're at the end of the set before you know it and tonight that was how it was the whole way through. The sound was near perfect (Dave C later said it was the best sound system they'd ever played through!) and I couldn't give you a highlight because the entire show was just superb. Having heard it now for the fourth time, I feel that "The Antique Suite" has finally been given the treatment it deserves. This live version knocks spots off the original recording, which doesn't come across with anything like the power and beauty of this song played by the acoustic trio.

    When they came back on for the encore, the crowd shouted for so many different songs that Dave C said that they'd "play all night" which was met with huge cheers, but the loudest shouts were for "Witchwood" and after a quick exchange of glances between them, that was what we got :o)

    An absolutely brilliant evening never to be forgotten.

    Photo by Alison Brown - click here for more.

    JUST SUBLIME - Comments from Peter Craggs

    You got some smashing photos there Alison ! My favourite is the last one (of Dave Cousins) but you got some great shots of Chas.

    Last night's concert was absolutely fantastic ! You can see that they enjoy performing their music and they are all just superb experts at their job and come together as a team ... Looking at them during some of their songs you could see them all playing away on their guitars, all playing differently, but the combination of it all was just sublime ........ I was really really impressed ! Will definitely go and see them again.

    We're going to get their new CD this weekend.

    Setlist from Steve Pritchards

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

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

    A Glimpse Of Heaven


    STORIES SET TO ENLIGHTEN AND TO BE ENJOYED - Review by Clive Price, photo by Amy Page

    I saw it mentioned in our local paper, the world famous Littlehampton Gazette(!). First of all I was impressed because of the act, then I was impressed because of the venue...a legendary band appearing at West Chiltington? Well, it was my mate Tim's birthday, so I said I'd treat him to a ticket to ease the slippery slope through his 40s.

    We drove through the wilds of West Sussex, past a country gent armed with torch, walking his dog in the dark, past some impressive dwelling places, and then into the rural idyll of West Chiltington Village Hall. The first thing we noticed when we got out of the car was...the total absence of normal noise. I thought I'd gone deaf, but then realised I could hear something in the distance - probably the baggage handlers at Gatwick. Man, it was quiet. Coming from Littlehampton, it was as if we'd come from a war zone.

    Anyway, in we went. Not knowing anyone. Not knowing if we were dressed right (it's years since I went to a folk club - aren't you meant to wear suede boots?) But the nice smiley lady at the door greeted us in a friendly manner, and handed us our tickets. We felt safe. This wasn't a secret lair of West Chiltington Vampire Lords. This was a nice village hall. And we were going to hear the Strawbs.

    Leonard Cohen poured out of the speakers. Now, I'm a great Cohen fan, but guys, not on a Saturday night when we all need a pick-me-up! The 'live' music started. A bloke sang some songs. The usual folk club bit. He could have done with an introduction, really. Fancy expecting him to be the MC - as well as plug his guitar in. Get that nice smiley lady up there to do the announcements.

    When the Strawbs hit the stage, that was it. Dave Cousins was the archetypal storyteller straying into stand-up comic territory. His entertaining, amusing quips in between songs added to the whole thing. His wild sweeps and stares showed there was still plenty of art and attitude in his soul. And the other Dave on guitar...well, he made the instrument just sing. Chas on bass painted superb rhythmic backdrops - especially with his synthesiser-cum-footstool.

    Such great musicianship. Those were the days, when a pop single was a well-crafted tune, and an album was an experience. Something has been lost in our manufactured age. And the Strawbs reminded us of that. Thought-provoking lyrics about life, death and afterlife. Plaintive melodies. Stunning chord sequences. Those were the tools that the Strawbs took out of the box, to remind us of greatness. Stories set to tunes. Stories set to amazing guitar work. Stories set to enlighten and to be enjoyed. Stories that launched many other folk-rock bands.

    "Lemon Pie", "Lay Down", "A Glimpse Of Heaven", and the beautiful "If I Could Live A Thousand Years" - just some of the well-constructed material presented to us. I was waiting for "I Only Want My Love To Grow In You" and "Part Of The Union", but maybe next time.

    But then the whole lot went back in the box again, along with the bodhran. (I've seen those Guinness drums on the Irish Ferries boats). Shame. Still, I was glad to leave in one way, because my bum was hurting. Village halls throughout West Sussex are known for those instruments of torture that they sadistically call 'chairs'.

    Thanks, Footlights, and thanks again for a great night out. And to think we might have gone to see Green Day at the Brighton Centre. Punk can wait. We shall be busy buying old Strawbs records off ebay.

    The gig was a sell-out at 210 tickets sold. Nearly four hundred pounds was raised for the victims of the Asian Tsunami. More info and pictures

    DG - Clive is a freelance editor/writer/PR specialist whose written material has been used by the likes of the Sunday Express (UK), Western People (Ireland), Charisma (USA), World Vision (UK) and EMI (USA).

    Photo by Amy Page


    For those that don't know it (does anyone!!); West Chilington is set in deepest West Sussex and I do mean deep. The closer we got the narrower the roads became and to prove it was an English country village, the hall was set over half a mile away from the village it's named after!!

    Unlike some I haven't the foggiest about WC's history as it was dark on arrival. However the car park was filling as we arrived and by the time the gig started the hall was looking almost full. A quick bit of mental arithmetic put the number of seats at 200+. The evening kicked off with the local organiser singing 4 songs - sorry wasn't too impressed; the guys came on about 8.30.

    I'd taken along 2 Strawbs "virgins" to the gig and was wondering what they'd make of it. For me I was impressed as to how well Chas has fitted in so well and as Neil Punnett said the new line-up is different. With Chas there is a greater vocal depth particularly on the harmony sections, notably "The Flower and the Young Man", "Autumn" & "Shine on Silver Sun". Also Chas's foot operated box of tricks works well in most places giving further depth to the songs it's used in and reminding me more of the Strawbs sound I first fell in love with.

    I won't dissect every song but rather pass comment on what caught my ear."Midnight Sun" was played at a slower tempo than on the Hero and Heroine album and I have to say I kept waiting for it to speed up, too used to that version I suppose.

    I hadn't heard "Cold Steel" or "If" until then (I bought Deja Fou and Wakeman/Cousins live last night - still haven't heard them, being kept as birthday pressies for next Wednesday). "Cold Steel" was fine although I lost some of the lyrics in the mix and once "If" was ended I heard a few members of the audience say 'beautiful' before the applause drowned them out. "The Antique Suite" was an especial highlight and "Oh How She Changed" was another, yes true never a single but still a great song.

    It was an excellent night with a very appreciative crowd; my only concern was DC's vocals. At time they seemed restrained and not so clear, it may have been the sound system which seemed minimal and there were times when Chas and Dave's vocals seemed to drown him out and in "New World" and "Hero & Heroine" DC's voice faltered. Still he's got a week-ish off maybe the rest will do him good. That aside; as ever the musicianship was superb as commented on by both my friends who were highly complimentary; I saw no other Witchwood "badge" holders and surprisingly I don't recall a single photo being taken.

    I managed a few words with all three. DC reeled off where they were next and how it was working out so well with Chas; DL is still chuffed with his guitar. He mentioned that Washburn were sending a replacement for his old one but quote "I think I'll stick with this, it has a great feel".

    Lastly the bar was donations only, I thought it was a way of getting around not having a drinks licence but no - all proceeds went the Tsunami Appeal; a nice touch to top a great evening.

    One last thing though, could they lose "Lemon Pie" for "On Growing Older" instead??

    Setlist from Nigel Bennett

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

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

    A Glimpse Of Heaven


    DO YOU COME HERE OFTEN? - Review by Neil Punnett

    First time for the Strawbs at the Bridgwater Arts Centre (I believe), and they earned a warm reception from a full house of 150 on a mild Somerset evening. The Arts Centre is located half way down Bridgwater's most attractive street, lined with impressive terraces dating from the 18th Century running down to the River Parret whose former wharves brought the town prosperity. Fallen on harder times in more recent centuries, Bridgwater is now at last seeing the beginnings of a renaissance and a return to prosperity based on its strategic location beside the M5 motorway. Claiming to be the first Arts Centre of its kind in the country, it was a fittingly historic venue for our favourite band.

    This was the first time I had seen the new trio, and I had wondered how this new Chas and Dave version would compare with the Willoughby team. I needn't have worried. They seemed relaxed, refreshed and in the best of health. Only on "Ghosts" did I feel that Brian was sorely missed; with Brian this had featured an ethereal, hypnotic introduction with the three guitars gradually weaving a complex sound pattern that induced a trance in the listener. With Chas on board, "Ghosts" was stripped down and DL's heavier guitar work was more to the fore.

    But comparisons are inappropriate; Chas is not a replacement for Brian. The new line-up is neither better nor worse, just different. The material has changed too, with Chas' acoustic bass and strong voice allowing a wider choice of songs. "The Antique Suite" was beautifully done. I had wondered how this live version would compare with Tony Hooper's wonderful original but, blow me, DL's vocal performance was superb. It has always been a tingle moment for me on the LP when Tony starts to sing "Take my hand, and I will lead you safely..", and Dave Lambert did it beautifully - what a great voice he has, despite all those cigarettes! It came to the fore again on an excellent "Autumn/The Winter Long".

    "Simple Visions" was a great opener, "Shine on Silver Sun" was performed in a very different sounding version from that of the earlier acoustic line-up. Gone were the lush, twinkly guitar parts, but the three voices lent great power to the chorus. I was surprised that the 12-string guitar, good though it was, didn't take a greater part in the overall sound. Perhaps the levels were slightly wrong, or perhaps my hearing has slightly deteriorated (probably the latter); I was hoping for some McGuinn-style jangly moments, but there were none.

    DC performed impassioned vocals on "New World" but, strangely, DL's guitar sounded a bit restrained on this when it needed to be strident. He was also just that little below full pelt on "Lay Down". Is this intentional?

    "The Flower and the Young Man" was excellent, DL's vocals again outstanding. "Lemon Pie" was performed very well (but was the cause of an overheard conversation from clear newcomers to the band within the audience about 'some daft lyrics'; perhaps DC needs to introduce it to place it in context - if you know that it relates to lots of blond women, then it makes more sense and you can handle all those citrus pies rather better). "Oh How She Changed" was an interesting new addition for me, although it is pretty clear why it failed to bring the Strawbs a hit when released as their first single, despite the skills of Dudgeon and Visconti - how could they have thought that it was commercial enough to be a single? The final song was an enthusiastic "Hero and Heroine" and the encore a tremendous version of "A Glimpse of Heaven" which went down an absolute storm.

    Dave Cousins was resplendent in his red shirt, red socks, and playing his impressive red Gretsch. Dave Lambert coaxed a tremendous variety of sounds from his beautiful blue guitar. Chas was especially comfortable with the acoustic bass which gave a new dimension to the sound of the trio. What has gone from the set-list? No "Tears and Pavan", or "The River/Down By the Sea", or "Benedictus", or "Witchwood", or "Hangman and the Papist", or ........ quite a few changes, then.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this gig. I think the new line-up is great and makes an interesting change from the previous incarnation. I bought Full Bloom and Wakeman and Cousins Live from the merchandise stand, but was surprised to see that they only apparently had a handful of "Deja Fou" available.

    A great gig then and, strange to relate, I think I had the chance to be picked up by an attractive woman for the first time in my life. She first asked me before the gig as I strolled towards the bar "Are you Chris?"; I had to say I wasn't, but it may have been more interesting if I had said that I was (or would she have slapped me round the face, or stabbed me to the heart?). As I walked out after the show she approached me again "You're still not Chris, are you? Hello, I'm Jane" (I'm using an assumed name to cover her embarrassment if she happens to read this) and then she really, really, truly said "Do you come here often?" Well, if I hadn't had my wife and two friends about five metres away, I think I'd have been in there.............. Funny that this should happen 30 years after it would have been more appropriate..... oh me, oh my.....

    MAGNIFICENT! - Review by Nigel Bennett

    A trip across the mystical Somerset levels, set the backdrop for the latest gig of the tour.

    The venue was pretty full by the time the band took the stage as I caught up with tour, for the first time since the opening night in Birmingham.

    The running order was pretty much the same as the previously reported performances, but at times with a just little imagination, the spooky appearance of an image of a head and wings of a Blue Angel as the blue stage lights bathed and lit the back curtain, mysteriously.

    Although a smallish venue, the sound was well balanced and the huge speakers certainly gave the impression they were going to be man enough for the job.

    Perhaps "Simple Visions" could have benefited from just a little more volume as the trio, opened the gig with an energetic opening number.

    Perfect vocal harmonies, followed next on "The Flower and the Young man". and at the conclusion of "Ghosts" the audience were really beginning to warm to the evening, despite apparently, the Art Centre's central heating system failing to work.

    I have really enjoyed the introduction of "Midnight Sun" to the set and tonight for the first time the power available in the speakers, really began to rumble with Chas adding the background on pedals.

    "Cold Steel" was really well received and with "Autumn" closing the opening set in its usual style, this was now becoming a very good night recognised by the more than ample applause.

    If the opening set had a ended with a powerful finish, it was there from the start as Chas's bass on "Lemon Pie" was given full value in the mix.

    It struck me tonight, how lead vocals are now very much shared between the two Dave's and none so more, than "The Antique Suite" and Dave Lambert's vocals performance on that and "Oh How She Changed", was as sensitive and good as I think I have heard.

    Not to be outdone, Dave C provided an emphatic and powerful "New World" and in contrast a sensitive "If" where he seemed to delay his vocal intro at the start of each verse, ever so slightly, drawing every emotion from the lyric.

    A long story intro in "Hard Hard Winter", brought some light-hearted banter from the audience (has any one ever scraped a dog off a tree ??). A beautiful rendition.

    The opening of "Lay Down" brought a ripple of acknowledgement from the gathered throng and a closing "Hero and Heroine" finished with a standing ovation from a number in the audience and cries of 'magnificent!'.

    The anticipated encore of "A Glimpse of Heaven", later described to me by DC as the best ever!!!, underlined, the entertainment everyone had enjoyed.


    DELIVERED WITH PASSION - Review and pictures from Jim Corstophine

    For more pix from Jim, click here

    Thought you might like these photos for your web site, taken during and after the Bein Inn concert on Friday 28th January 2005. The people you won't recognise are me, Jim Corstorphine, and my wife Elizabeth.

    Although my wife Elizabeth and I live only around 20 miles from the Bein Inn, we decided to stay overnight so that we could have a couple of shandies before and after the concert and maybe meet the band. We certainly weren't disappointed!

    As we checked in to the Inn in the early evening, Chas Cronk appeared from an adjacent room, smiled at us as he passed by the reception and nodded a greeting. This was just typical of the friendly vibes that emanated throughout the evening; not just from the band, but from the other Strawbs fans enjoying a pre-concert drink in the cosy reception lounge (complete with roaring log fire) and from the friendly hotel staff.

    The Strawbs took their places on stage at nine and immediately I knew we were in for a treat. The sound quality was good, the choice of material was great, and the audience of around 40 weren't long in showing their appreciation. Incidentally, the vet who had to leave half way through Thursday night's gig was in the audience, and this time he managed to take in the whole show!

    All three band members were in superb form. The icing on the cake was Dave Cousins' banter, which he expertly delivered between each song with a twinkle in his eye. On more than one occasion his humorous stories behind the songs produced a spontaneous outburst of laughter from the assembly. The best part of the concert was, in my opinion "The Antique Suite". This was preceded by Dave explaining the sad story behind the song, which concerned a dear friend who had passed away.

    The concert concluded with another of my favourite Strawbs numbers, "A Glimpse Of Heaven". The song was delivered with such passion that I'm not afraid to admit there was a tear in my eye when Dave sang the emotive lines "New born lambs that sweetly played, Speckled eggs all newly laid, But for you I would have stayed, I think I must have caught a glimpse of heaven."

    Retiring to the bar afterwards, Elizabeth and I waited for the 'non-residents' to leave for home before approaching all three band members to ask if they would mind having their photos taken with us. The two Daves and Chas were more than willing to oblige, after which we had a couple of drinks and chatted for well over an hour. I understand the Acoustic Strawbs are due back at the Bein Inn in September - we'll certainly be there!

    UNUSUAL EXCUSE - TALES FROM THE ROAD - Comment from Dave Cousins

    On the phone to Dave Cousins earlier today (28th), he commented that the tour's all going very well, and that they're enjoying themselves. At last night's Bein Inn gig, however one of the crowd had to leave half way through the performance - to go and deliver a calf !!! Dave said, "Could have been worse. At least he didn't leave because he hated the music!"

    WONDERING WHERE THE TIME HAD GONE - Review and photo by David Preston

    I last saw the Strawbs play on an extremely wet night in Glasgow last autumn. The weather was very different today with blue skies, sunshine and mild temperatures. A most un-Scottish day! Living as I do in Glasgow this gig meant a 140 mile round trip, but it was well worth it. I confess that I had never heard of this venue, let alone visited it, before, but it was easy to find, being just off the M90 motorway south of Perth. This was certainly the most intimate concert I have ever attended. The audience numbered about 20 (reduced by one half way through who had to leave to help give birth to a calf!!)

    The set list was the same as listed in previous reviews and the playing was absolutely superb. Dave's voice seemed stronger and more mellow than before, and I can honestly say that the time flew by very quickly indeed so much so that when the last song was announced there were a lot of the audience glancing at their watches wondering where the time had gone!

    I spent a very convivial hour chatting with Dave in the bar afterwards in which he informed me that the band will be back to play the Renfrew Ferry in Glasgow in September. I'm looking forward to it already!

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