Updated: 30 Jan 2006
Part 2 - Second leg - 28 January to 18 February
The Hangman And The Papist
Barcarole (For The Death Of Venice)
Shine On Silver Sun
Oh, How She Changed
The Antique Suite
Glimpse of Heaven
RED LION FOLK CLUB, KINGS HEATH, SATURDAY 7 JANUARY 2006
The first gig of 2006 brought a fair few out of winter hibernation and as usual the Red Lion was filled with a large and receptive audience, who queued very early for the best seats.
Exchanging New year pleasantries (well mostly !) were fellow Witchwooders - Dick, Steve P and eventually after a gargantuan trip throughout the West Midlands countryside with my ticket, Lindsay and Carole. Somehow I was able to persuade the doorman that my ticket was on its way, although the explanation was, they thought, just a little bizarre. Also in evidence were the usual Midlands Mafia, of course my Strawbs friends, pals and fanatics, Bob & Lou Richardson, Nick & Lin Evans, the "Daves" and Paul.
A "Benedictus" sans Dulcimer launched the New year in the grand style "to which we all are accustomed" and the repertoire that followed, well known from last years tours, was performed precisely in that style. A perfect "Antiques" was perhaps the highlight of the night, but again that shouldn't detract from the other songs where the emotion was very strongly in evidence, holding all spellbound by their beauty and delivery. Each song holding the attention of the audience in near silence. A real tribute this, in a venue with a bar.
Time prevented a second encore that was being seriously demanded by the audience after "Glimpse Of Heaven" - by now it was 11.30 and the gig should have finished at 11.00 and despite a loud and ringing "that's bloody great" in a Midlands tone, at the quality of the entertainment (any guesses to the culprit?), the organiser ran for cover from the stage wishing they could have obliged, but up against the never ending time bandit.
The Red Lion is a great place to see the band and this was a great start to what we all hope will be a fantastic 2006. New Years greetings and best wishes to all.
Now where's my map ?
NATIONAL FOREST FOLK CLUB, MOIRA, NR ASHBY DE LA ZOUCH, FRIDAY 13 JANUARY 2006
Strawbs started the evening off with a new set which included "Tears And Pavan", "Midnight Sun", "Oh How She Changed" and "Sunday Morning", all superbly done. The sound was excellent and the boys were in good form. An audience of around 140 were extremely receptive, and the lads earned a standing ovation before the encore "A Glimpse Of Heaven".
Nina and Mike were the hosts and did a very nice set themselves. A wonderful evening and a wonderful start to the forthcoming year. Looking forward to our travels to see more of their Great Shows !!
The Man Who Called Himself Jesus
Tears And Pavan
Shine On Silver Sun
Oh How She Changed
A Glimpse Of Heaven
SWINDON ARTS CENTRE, SWINDON, SATURDAY 14 JANUARY 2006
Boys and girls settle down, this is not a full blown review, suffice to say more than 150 souls enjoyed the return to the Art centre of the famed trio. Little boys giggled at DC's drunken stories, even Lisa got a mention, not in a drunken fashion, but in a warm and welcoming way, famous now in Swindon, famous across the world.
This venue is always well sold ,when the band are in town and tonight was no exception.
For those changes in the set list aficionados, you may just note some interesting changes, but there's no way I'm hosting a vote.
As the set is new, I may just have not got it quite right, but thought that I would bring it to you anyway tonight. Tonight, after all it is "Sunday Morning" here in the UK. It's good enough for me.
THE COURTYARD THEATRE, HEREFORD, FRIDAY 20 JANUARY 2006
My first chance to see the acoustic line-up with Chas and to visit the city where I lived through my teens and twenties. Indeed had not the lovely Helen who was my first true love not played me "Antiques and Curio's" back in 1971 and I had not bought her "From the Witchwood" for her 17th birthday would I be here now? I must admit to looking through the audience when I arrived wondering if she was here tonight 35 years later. If she was, I did not recognise her. The Courtyard is a wonderful venue. The seating was excellent, the sound well balanced and there was plenty to eat and drink before during and after. It is situated opposite Edgar Street football ground, scene of the mighty Hereford v Newcastle FA cup match in the early 70's where me Dad and I witnessed first hand the Ron Radford goal you see every year when they review the FA cup of previous years. It is also built where I believe my sister and I used to go swimming on a Saturday morning in the '60's. Hereford is very close to the Welsh Border. Actually on the drive through from Chepstow, I think I must have caught " a glimpse of Evans......"
I always have the greatest admiration for the dedicated souls that make a note of the set list because I can never remember it! But a quick glance at previous reviews pretty much confirmed that its stayed the same so far this tour. The previous time I saw the Acoustics, the set though well performed still felt slightly like the electric band with some personnel missing. Tonight was truly an evening of songs that could not have been performed better or needed enhancing in any way. It was much more of a back to the Strawbs "roots" experience. Though I have seen the Strawbs in various line-ups over the last 30 odd years this was truly unique fresh and excitingly new. The stories embellished the songs, the songs were played as if with the enthusiasm of a first performance. If you haven't seen this line-up then get off your backside and do so. I know going to concerts these days is not like when we were young. ^p What with baby-sitters and a long drive at the end of a long working week, it would have been so easy not to bother. However, it was more than worth it. Dave, Dave and Chas thank you so much.
HAZLITT THEATRE, MAIDSTONE, SATURDAY 21 JANUARY 2006
"Exceptional musicianship"..............…"best night I've had in ages"................"after you've seen Acoustic Strawbs nothing will ever compare again"......"the audience were spellbound from start to finish"............."the power of the songs brought tears to all our eyes, sometimes of laughter, sometimes of sadness"..............."a friendlier crowd you could not find"................."even the barmaid had been so affected by Acoustic Strawbs she seemingly found it impossible to serve anyone for ages"......... (Daily Blurb)
Yes, another wonderful evening of Strawbs' music and camaraderie. I adored "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus", so glad to have seen that. Terrific set with "The Antiques Suite" still the absolute jewel in the crown in my opinion (my only gripe was the omission of "Barcarole" – I don't think it's been in the set long enough to be left out and it's far too stunningly good for the chop.
I was accompanied by my friend Gill and was also wearing my "mum" hat as I had my daughter and son with me – first time they've seen Strawbs apart from at the Walton-on-the-Naze festival several years ago (a big mistake on my part, I had assumed "festival" implied outdoor, running free on the grass, bouncy castles kind of thing when in fact it was sitting in an ordinary theatre). Being lively toddlers meant they didn't last the course that time, and when "Baa Baa Black Sheep" started to be sung as accompaniment to "Blue Angel" I had to concede defeat and make a quick exit. This time however, at 12 and 14 respectively, it was very different, with much interest in the guitar techniques, amusement at Dave C.'s wonderful story-telling (a great night for that), and plenty of positive comments all round on the way home. They were delighted too when the band joined us for a photo session after the gig, which Sue kindly took (after I had checked everyone, including my kids, was standing up straight and had wiped their noses properly).
I gave Gill her belated Christmas present (that's Christmas 1998 I think) – a copy of "Painted Sky" which was played on the homeward journey and which she adores - having seen the band 4 or 5 times now she is very definitely one of the fold.
Lovely to see Nige, Sue and Mike, and Phil and Yvonne. SmUrFy - forget Witchwood badges - bring a telescope or something next time!! How on earth did you not spot us all?? Admittedly my badge was at an alternative location, sorry, but I had two of the "handful of young strawblings" you mention in tow, make that three, Nigel definitely qualifies though he tells me he will soon be 21. I kept meaning to try and get a Witchwood group photo but unfortunately it didn't happen in all the excitement so we'll all have to meet up again soon to remedy that. Afraid my photos are not quite professional quality (Sue's were infinitely better) and I shall be sending a few to Dick (who was very much missed, as was Carole and Steve. Oh alright and Claridge, and others too) for the website.
Photo by Lindsay Sorrell
Got to the venue early, with enough time to have a walk around the town centre as the shopkeepers were closing up for night, and what would appear to be where the youth of this part of Kent go for their night time revels. After 30 minutes of walking and a short stop for refreshment I was back at the theatre just in time to see Chas Cronk and the tour manager (Neil) walk out looking for a pub. They didn't have to look far as there was The Earl directly opposite. However they caught sight of a Richer Sounds hi-fi discount store and were momentarily distracted and went to look through the window at the displays of Televisions, DVD players and such like. I had brought my copy of Painted Sky with me and saw my chance, so I approached and asked Chas if he would sign his picture on the CD sleeve. You never know what kind of reaction you might get when you interrupt somebody's private time, but I had no need to worry Chas was friendly and willing.
This was my first ever foray into Maidstone where the boys played another magnificent acoustic set, and as always seemed to really be enjoying themselves. A well attended concert and I noticed a handful of young "strawblings" which is always nice to see. The Hazlitt is a tiny theatre, which looks like one of those you might see in the old "music hall" days, but it is very clean, good acoustics, well maintained and has its own bar with friendly staff. I was informed by the nice woman in the box office that a couple "all the way from Denmark" were attending and how she "thought it was marvellous that people would come from that far away," this was confirmed by Dave Cousins during the night and he also gave his thanks (nice touch).
Dave Cousins was enigmatic as ever giving us those introductory stories to the songs which we never tire of hearing. You realise what a rich tapestry of a life the band have lived in the 40 or so career years, but of course they had to work damn hard for it! The set list was a copy (albeit played in a slightly different order) of one recently posted here with the addition of my favourite "love song" of all time - If (I could live a thousand years). Dave Lambert was playing a new Dean six string acoustic which I was informed is a Dean "Key Largo" model, and was truly superb both in playing mastery and vocal contribution. I loved the ebow.
We met the boys in the bar after, and I thank them for that opportunity to get more signatures, even though Dave Lambert had to rush away to get somewhere he took time out enough to sign and chat. The two friends who came with me had a great time, I know that's true because they told me so about 20 or 30 times on the way home.
THE MET, BURY, FRIDAY 27 JANUARY 2006
A sell-out crowd, for a somewhat truncated set at Bury Met, what I would call a Festival Set...all straight thru in one, no break, and notable omission of "Antiques Suite", much to Geoff's great disapointment. The support band [Fishonastick] seemed to be given a very long slot, and the lads had to cut short accordingly.
Great to hear a new version of "Man Who Called Himself Jesus" (the Blaze of Glory mix), a welcome return for a reworked "Tears And Pavan", and also the return of "Hero And Heroine" for encore. "Midnight Sun" and "Shine On Silver Sun" were particularly haunting, but I can't help but feel "Ghosts" should now be rested.