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ACOUSTIC STRAWBS - UK DATES
APRIL/MAY 2006

Updated: 7 May 2006

Contents
The Arc Theatre, Trowbridge, Saturday 1 April 2006
  • These Guys Enjoy Each Other's Company - Review by Pete Bradley
  • Cramphorn Theatre, Chelmsford, Saturday 8 April 2006
  • A Night of Ecstasy in Essex - Review by Lindsay Sorrell
  • An Almost Gentleness Of Perfection - Review by Nigel Bennett
  • The Acoustics At Their Very Best - Review by Neil Lamb
  • Festival Of Folk, Holmfirth, Friday 5 May 2006
  • A Real Triumph - Review by Pete Madeley
  • An Abundance Of Light - Review by Alison Brown


  • Setlist from Nigel Bennett

    Benedictus (acapella)
    Simple Visions
    Tears And Pavan
    The Man Who Called Himself Jesus
    Shine On Silver Sun
    Cold Steel
    Autumn

    Ghosts
    Midnight Sun
    Oh, How She Changed
    Tell me what you see in me
    Dragonfly
    If
    Lay Down

    Hero and Heroine

    THE ARC THEATRE, TROWBRIDGE, SATURDAY 1 APRIL 2006

    THESE GUYS ENJOY EACH OTHER'S COMPANY - Review by Pete Bradley

    Sadly, the management of the Arc theatre don't allow photographs in the auditorium, so I couldn't take any pictures, either of the band, or of the accompanying go-go dancers. (The lack of go-go dancers also hampered this ambition. One can't help wondering if this oversight would prevent the need for the band to have to recharge their pacemakers during the interval.)

    The set was more or less identical to the Acoustic concerts prior to the recent Electric tour, with one major exception: in the second half they dropped "The Antiques Suite" and replaced it with "Tell Me What You See In Me". The decision to play this one was only made the day before, so they had had very little time to rehearse it, but the performance was still immaculate.

    It was very noticable, right from the start, just how much these guys enjoy each other's company, and appreciate each other's musical ability. Despite the fact that Dave L had heard Dave C's patter several times before, he still genuinely laughed at the jokes, as did we. Dave L's biggest laugh though was when Dave C caught a frog in his throat in the middle of "Lay Down". Dave C neatly recovered in a few bars, but still enough to make Dave L chuckle. As if Dave C would forget the lyrics to that one!

    Utterly amazing how they can switch between the electric and the acoustic bands without forgetting who is playing what notes. It must be so easy to assume that John Hawken is about to take the lead, and then realise that he isn't there.

    Forgive me if I'm showing my ignorance here, (I only caught the Isle of Wight concert in the last Acoustic tour), but I believe that they have jazzed up "Hero and Heroine". Chances are they have been playing it like this since 1973, but there was a fantastic bit where Chas took the lead on bass, which I haven't noticed before.

    All in all a very good concert. High time the Acoustics paid another visit to the NPL.


    Setlist from Nigel Bennett

    Benedictus (acapella)
    Simple Visions
    Tears And Pavan
    The Man Who Called Himself Jesus
    Shine On Silver Sun
    Cold Steel
    Autumn

    Ghosts
    Midnight Sun
    Oh, How She Changed
    Tell me what you see in me
    Dragonfly
    If
    Lay Down

    Glimpse of Heaven

    CRAMPHORN THEATRE, CHELMSFORD, SATURDAY 8 APRIL 2006

    A NIGHT OF ECSTASY IN ESSEX - Review by Lindsay Sorrell

    Just a brief report on yet another highly enjoyable Acoustic Strawbs' gig last night in Chelmsford - neither I nor any of my fellow companions had realised it was the opening night of a new folk club venture at the Cramphorn Theatre and we were all rather surprised when events got underway and various floor singers started getting up to do their bit. The omnipresent Nigel got his ticket out to check we were all there on the right evening as no mention was being made of Strawbs, just raffles and floor spots. Reassured we were there on the right evening we settled back to enjoy the trad. folk singers, most of whom were pretty good but I was a tad concerned it meant Strawbs' own set would be shortened it wasn't though according to Neil of merchandise and other things fame.

    "Simple Visions" was back in, sounding fresh and vibrant as ever which delighted me, "Midnight Sun" was superb of course and I absolutely adore the new arrangement of "Tell Me What You See in Me". It gets so boring keep reporting how well everyone played and sang but honestly, I cannot tell a lie, they did yet again. Everything was pretty wonderful in fact, great sound and the audience really was a friendly crowd, mostly seated around little candlelit tables though there was a raised row of seats along the back where we sat (I did take a few rather pathetic photos, some of which have got bits of the band in, which I'll send to Strawbsweb so Ali can have a good laugh). I was quite surprised when I looked round to see a whole row of people standing up against the back wall too - it was definitely standing room only so looks like it did sell out after all. I recognised several faces from the Southend/Leigh- on-Sea area (Chelmsford is only a few miles up the road) and knew they were real folkies, seen several of them playing at Leigh-on-Sea folk festival and those kind of events over the years, so I was a little concerned as to how Strawbs' heavier numbers would go down. I'm pleased to report that the ones I had under surveillance had feet tapping and heads nodding in definite appreciation. An open-minded lot we are in South Essex (maybe we have to be!).

    Witchwooders felt a bit thin on the ground for those of us still recovering from Bilston, although Nigel made it over in his hippy camper van from Stonehenge where he had spent the afternoon meditating with a couple of his chicks (fluffy yellow ones) and Neil "It's-Chico-Time!" Lamb blew out his recently arranged lovers' tryst with Shirley and chose to join us to celebrate a feast of Strawbs instead. So glad you made that decision Neil (apologies to non-Witchwooders for an 'in-joke'!). I was with friends Gill and Leslie who both enjoyed themselves immensely, Leslie started the evening as a complete Strawbs novice (apart from distant memories of "Part of the Union") who rushed to buy "Painted Sky" before departure, while Gill was bought "Deep Cuts" for her birthday tomorrow as she too adores "Simple Visions". By the way, I love the bonus track on the remastered "Deep Cuts" - Dave Lambert's "You won't see the Light" really gets inside your head.

    I picked up a copy of the new Platinum "Heartbreak Hill" for myself so glad I did, it really is stunningly good to hear those songs the way they were apparently intended to sound, several of the tracks on that album are indescribably brilliant in my opinion and I'm still amazed when I hear Strawbs fans say they've never heard it. I know it's all due to the massive delays which occurred before it was released and a lot of Strawbs' fans didn't even really know of its existence, but if you haven't heard it then do yourselves a favour, particularly now the remastered Platinum version has just been released.



    Chelmsford photo by Lindsay Sorrell.


    AN ALMOST GENTLENESS OF PERFECTION - Review by Nigel Bennett

    I can only echo the thoughts of others, that this was a highly enjoyable evening. If the sound may have been turned down a notch or two, who cared, the clarity, the balance was superb. With the audience being particularly attentive, a quiet listening mood existed, magnified by the almost traditional folk club sing around atmosphere.

    There were songs, when Chas's pedals too, seemed to have been given extra oomph and "buzz", all in the right places. Although it is never possible to compare one gig, from memory, against another, the more I think about this what a great show it was.

    OK I admit I do like the "in your face " loud stuff, but tonight the ambience was different, an almost gentleness of perfection, of the songs we all know and love, with appropriate moments of intensity and aggression.

    "Shine on Silver Sun" tonight was a fine example of what I have been trying to describe in the way the music came over in that particularly harmonic way. Oh, for "Barcarole", a perfect evening for an airing.

    Other than that I'm pretty much in harmony myself with Lindsay on the other song mentions.

    "Glimpse of Heaven", was so appropriate tonight, for the encore.


    Chelmsford photo by Lindsay Sorrell.


    THE ACOUSTICS AT THEIR VERY BEST - Review by Neil Lamb

    I would endorse Lindsay's and Nigel's comments about the evening - the Acoustics at their very best particularly with regard to the more gentle tracks i.e. "Midnight Sun" , "If" and "Dragonfly" - immeasurably helped by a mesmerised and respectful audience. Dave C's vocals were exceptionally clear and it was the best "Man who called himself Jesus" I had experienced in the recent set. Dave C in very relaxed mood and one wonderfully genial meandering story which managed to interweave thatchers from Devon and rock megastars of the ilk of the Stones and U2 ! As Lindsay pointed out there was a stunningly arranged "Tell Me What You See In Me" with just the right tempo for this combo. Old favourites such as "Tears and Pavan" and "Autumn" continued to produce sublime moments of subtlety of phrasing - perhaps only "Ghosts" seemed a bit jaded to me and in need of a rest.

    A magical evening and they continue to provide a simple vision of a perfect life.



    Setlist from Pete Madeley

    Benedictus (acapella)
    Simple Visions
    Tears And Pavan
    The Man Who Called Himself Jesus
    Shine On Silver Sun
    Cold Steel
    Autumn
    Ghosts
    Midnight Sun
    The Hangman and the Papist
    Lay Down

    Hero and Heroine
    Part of The Union

    FESTIVAL OF FOLK, HOLMFIRTH, FRIDAY 5 MAY 2006

    A REAL TRIUMPH - Review by Pete Madeley

    The Acoustic Strawbs appeared at the Holmfirth Folk Festival in the Picturedrome Theatre: one of the first picture houses in the UK, and the home of the early British Film Industry. The Picturedrome (as seen in Ali's photo) also houses the Bamforth Postcard Museum. Tonight it was the main venue for the Festival.

    First on the bill was John Senior who was a fairly standard Folk Club offering: he did a couple of good songs and murdered many more. Next up was was Katus, who seemed to feel she had more talent than the audience did. Her songs were very repetitive though they did generate a feeling of the 60's and 70's when combined with the lighting, and I was expecting Hawkwind to walk on stage.

    Then the Strawbs came on only 30 mins late. The sound system was the best I have heard the acoustics play on. It was loud and clear, and made Chas's bass pedals sound awesome. The only quibble with the sound was during "Cold Steel" when Dave L's voice was too far back in the mix. The background lighting was atmospheric, but the spotlights were a joke. They rarely were on the band member who should have been featured.

    Lynne has never been partial to "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus". Tonight was the first time she had heard the reworked version and she was mightily impressed.

    All 3 band members sang and played brilliantly and with a passion. Dave C really threw himself into the songs, almost losing his voice at one point. There was only one set, which started the same as the first set from previous festival appearances. Then there was a suprise return of "The Hangman and the Papist".

    The 1st encore was a blistering "Hero and Heroine", and then the biggest suprise of the night, a second encore and last song of the night: "Part of the Union", requested by the owner of the venue.

    This was a real triumph.


    Holmfirth photo by Lynne and Ella Madeley - more pics from Lynne and Ella.


    AN ABUNDANCE OF LIGHT - Review by Alison Brown

    This was my first visit to Holmfirth in West Yorkshire, which is most famous for being the setting of the BBC's "Last Of The Summer Wine" programme. After arriving early afternoon, I had a wander round and duly visited Sid's Cafe and Nora Batty's Steps and found the town(?) was much smaller than I had expected. I bumped into Lynne outside the Picturedrome and was invited back up to "Madeley Towers", a little way up a very steep hill - a stunning house with a spectacular view!

    The night was opened by John Senior, a straightforward folk singer with acoustic guitar, followed by Katus who was from the Czech Republic but at one point was singing in Bulgarian! A short break and on came the Strawbs and launched into the acapella "Benedictus" followed by a wonderful "Simple Visions". No room in the single set for "The Antique Suite" but more than compensated by the return of "The Hangman And The Papist". There was a lot of chattering from people at the bar, who obviously hadn't come to listen to the music, so much so that at one point someone in the audience shouted out for them to "Shut up at the back!" which did lessen the din. "Lay Down" went down a storm and three couples got up and danced in between the seats and the stage. Pete Madeley and I got our encore wish for "Hero And Heroine" and to our great surprise it was followed by "Part Of The Union", at the request of Pete the promoter.

    The lighting was quite bizarre at times - the words "boys" and "new toys" come to mind (they had three black swiveling spotlights at the foot of the stage). Maybe there was some sort of competition going on for "How many lights and effects can you try out at once?" or "Where's the best place to shine a spotlight apart from on the performers?". The abundance of light, however, did allow me to get some decent non-flash photos!

    Another brilliant evening followed by a pleasant couple of hours chatting in the hotel bar with Dave L, Chas and Neil afterwards with a bit of a ceilidh going on in the corner. It's great when you don't have to drive home after a show :o)



    Holmfirth photo by Alison Brown - more pics from Alison.


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