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ACOUSTIC STRAWBS - UK TOUR
SEPTEMBER 2006

Updated: 23 Sep 2006

Part 1 - Halesworth (2 Sep) to Twickenham (17 Sep)
Dave Cousins & Friends - Live At The Blue Angel (17 Sep)
Part 2 - Leicester (21 Sep) to South Petherton (30 Sep)

Contents
Saturday 2 September 2006 - New Cut Arts, Halesworth
  • A Cut Above - Review and pix from Dick Greener
  • Deep Cuts At Halesworth New Cut - Review by Pete Bradley
  • I Dropped Down Into Halesworth - Tribute by Barry Smith
  • Setlist
  • Friday 8 September 2006 - Rockingham Arms, Wentworth
  • Enchanting - Comments from Pete Madeley
  • Everything Was A Highlight - Review from Mike Barker
  • Setlist from Alison Brown
  • Saturday 9 September 2006 - Village Hall, Lowdham
  • Amazing And Different Every Time - Comments and pics from Calli and Pete Bradley
  • Bring Your Own Drink - Comments from Paul Southby
  • Setlist
  • Monday 11 September 2006 - Saltaire Festival, Saltaire - The Old Tramshed
  • Cooking On Gas - Review by Gerry O'Neill
  • Setlist
  • Thursday 14 September 2006 - Rosehill Theatre, Whitehaven
  • Soundtrack Of My Life: My Privilege To Be In The Same Room - Review by John Graham Smith
  • Comments from Shelly Tomlinson
  • Setlist
  • Friday 15 September 2006 - Folk House, Bristol
  • Comments from Heather Malcolm
  • Audience Reaction You'd Expect From A US Crowd! - Review from Phil Gregory
  • Just Three People On Guitar With No Pyrotechnics - Comments from Phil Gregory
  • Guessing Games - Comments from Nigel Bennett
  • Jangly Bits Were All There, That Alone Made The Trip For Me Worthwhile - Review by Jon Connolly
  • Saturday 16 September 2006 - Winning Post, Whitton, afternoon
  • A Gig Almost To Myself - Review by Steve Pritchards
  • Setlist
  • Private Party - 16 September 2006, evening
  • Ch-Ch-Changes - Review by Dick Greener
  • Comments and pix from Les Cotton
  • On The Superb Side Of Excellent - Comments from Nigel Bennett
  • Rough Setlist

  • Setlist

    Benedictus
    Simple Visions
    New World
    The Flower And The Young Man
    Heavy Disguise
    Cold Steel
    Shine On Silver Sun
    Autumn

    Ghosts
    Midnight Sun
    The Golden Salamander
    Oh How She Changed
    Dragonfly
    Lay Down

    Hero And Heroine

    THE NEW CUT, HALESWORTH, 2 SEP 2006

    A CUT ABOVE - Review and pix from Dick Greener

    A nice drive from windswept East London, last Saturday afternoon, out to windswept Suffolk, to Halesworth for the opening night of the Autumn tour. Staying with friends in nearby Wissett (who very kindly took me down into town - thanks David and Jenny for putting me up - and thanks Steve Young for giving me a lift back much later on!), I landed at the gig good and early to hand over some boxed set material to Dave C.

    A nice space with raked seating and decent lighting, and a nice bottles bar outside staffed by volunteers, the New Cut is an excellent venue for Acoustic Strawbs, and the trio made a good start on the tour with a nice relaxed opening gig. Sound was probably better a bit further back - you were getting more actual live sound than amplified sound, which was interesting - but Calli and Pete had nabbed me a seat on the front row, and I wanted to try to get some pix. (Shame I'd not checked the camera batteries, which ran out two songs into the first half! That'll teach me!).

    "Benedictus/Simple Visions" was just faultless, I wished I'd had some recording equipment plugged into that desk and we'd have had the best version I've heard for a long time, possibly ever, of this dulcimer-free striking version of a Strawbs classic, bang up to date, for the boxed set. Never mind. "New World" stormed back into thr set during the summer shows, now joined by two other songs from Grave New World, the welcome return of another accapella stunner "Flower And The Young Man" and, for the first time, Acoustic Strawbs' take on John Ford's "Heavy Disguise". We knew it was the first time because Dave C, laying down his guitar for Lambert to thrash out the intro, attempted to start with verse 3! As they paused before re-starting, Lambert commented, "it's usually a bit longer than that". It's a rocking version with DC and Lambert sharing the vocals, Lambert excelling on guitar, and Chas adding bass (which unfortunately wasn't terribly audible where I was) - my guess is that this will quickly establish itself as a crowd-pleasing part of the set. During the Spring 2006 electric tour with John guesting, John and Dave duetted on guitar for this and there was a nice bit of theatre at the end with both raising their arm on the last strum - there was a ghost of this at the end of the song here, all obviously very pleased with its first public outing despite the false start.

    The remainder of the first half saw "Cold Steel" precede "Shine On Silver Sun", before heading into Autumn, Cousins reminding us that it really was Autumn out there. Dave's between song chat was relaxed and held a few surprises for regular listeners - obviously the trek down Memorabilia Lane for the boxed set has spawned a few new recollections and stories.

    Second half opened with "Ghosts" and "Midnight Sun" before another surprise, "Golden Salamander" returning for the first time with this line-up. "Oh How She Changed" was also faultless, still one of my very favourite Acoustic Strawbs treatments, and "Dragonfly" was gentle and haunting, preceding the rock and rolling "Lay Down" which closed the set. The encore, a robust "Hero And Heroine", Lambert attacking the bodhran with verve and gusto, before ripping into the thrash acoustic guitar finale.

    A great start to the tour, with some more surprises promised to follow as the tour progresses.





    Photos by Dick Greener- more pics from Dick.


    DEEP CUTS AT HALESWORTH NEW CUT - Review by Pete Bradley

    "Turn right" our Sat Nav told us as we arrived at The Cut in Halesworth, but there was no obvious road to turn in to. We knew we'd missed the turning when we heard, "Recalculating", so we turned round, and sure enough there was a tiny narrow alleyway. Trouble was, our Sat Nav had directed us to the No Entry end of a one way street. We drove round the block to find that the far end of The Cut was equally narrow, but luckily there was a small car park just before the turning. We grabbed the last space in the car park, and walked round the corner to meet DC just outside the New Cut Arts Centre.

    Although deep in the depths of Suffolk, The New Cut Arts Centre clearly aspires to be a West End venue, at least judging by the price of the beer. 3.50 a bottle. Ouch.

    The building, I presume, used to be a Maltings. The brick built auditorium has loads of little doors half way up the walls, ideal for the airborne Hobbit, but clearly not purpose built for the stage.

    The auditorium is probably the most high-tech venue that the guys have yet played in. Several times whilst they were playing, live real-time footage of them was projected on to the brick wall behind them, and at one time a film of waves crashing on to a beach was projected. At a huge venue this would obviously allow those at the back a chance to see the details of the performance, but in a small 200 odd seat theatre, I think most people could probably just about see without this, but it was still a nice addition to the stage.

    Dave Cousins started the show with a quick dig at the Rolling Stones. He asked, "Where are we?" and then went on to explain that Mick Jagger needed an autocue to tell him to say, "Good Evening London".

    Nobody expected any changes in the set-list, as we knew that it was only a couple of weeks since they played at Earls Court, and also that they had been working flat out on the box set, so we were stunned when Dave announced that they were going to squeeze in three songs that they hadn't played for a long time. Not only that, but DC has re-written his introductions to the songs. How do these guys do it?

    The first of the additions was "Heavy Disguise". The song got off to a shakey start when DC opened with the wrong verse, so Dave Lambert quipped that the song used to be longer than that, and maybe Dave Cousins needed that autocue after all. After explaing "I told you we hadn't played it for a long time." they started again and this time it was sung beautifully by DC and DL.

    The next addition to the set list was also from GNW. "The Flower and the Young Man." This was introduced by DC with a very funny explanation as to what the song was about. I won't spoil the story by revealing the punch-line, but if it had been anyone else telling the tale, I'd have thought it was an urban myth.

    They also added "The Golden Salamander" to the set list as well. Definately up there in my top ten list of favorite songs, so I'm really glad that they've included it. Sad that "Under a Cloudless Sky", or "Face Down in the Well", haven't yet made it, and it would be really good to hear something from Deadlines, such as "Deadly Nightshade", but I'm sure if we're patient they'll all get played eventually.

    As at Otterton, either Chas's mike seemed to be louder than normal, or Chas is singing with far more confidence than he used to. Didn't notice it at Earls Court, but during "Shine On", when Chas joins in, his voice really dominates. He has such a good voice, it's high time he had a solo.

    I don't know how many times I have heard "Lay Down", but the performance at Halesworth is very worthy of note. Not sure whether it was due to the balance not being quite right, as the bass was fairly quiet, but the Dave Lambert guitar break in the middle that blew my socks off. I started to assume that I had drifted off for a minute, and was no longer listening to "Lay Down", but some new prog rock number that I couldn't quite place.

    My final comment. In his introduction to "Dragonfly" Dave Cousins hinted that there was a chance that Claire Deniz might play with them at some stage in the future. The thought of listening to "Autumn" with a cello accompaniment is almost more exciting than the wait for the box set.

    I DROPPED DOWN INTO HALESWORTH - Tribute by Barry Smith

    I dropped down into Halesworth
    To see what I could find
    I had taken time out
    To hear the music that blows away my mind
    And all that I could hear was the sound of Daves own voice
    And the music he was making was every bit my choice

    The interwoven guitar sounds
    Were laden deep with joy
    Lamberts voice sang so softly
    And Chas showed the way to go
    I observed the threesomes greatness
    As my eyes closed I was lost
    As the intermission followed I was hoping that they'd play Ghosts

    The second half started and the dragonfly appeared
    The magic of the years gone by left me rooted to my chair
    And the wonder is still unbroken
    I am still a Strawbs music slave
    And the the music of the Witchwood
    Will be with me till the grave


    Setlist from Alison Brown

    Benedictus
    Simple Visions
    Tears And Pavan
    New World
    Heavy Disguise
    The Battle
    The Flower And The Young Man
    Shine On Silver Sun
    Cold Steel
    Autumn

    Ghosts
    Midnight Sun
    Two Weeks Last Summer
    The Golden Salamander
    Oh How She Changed
    Dragonfly
    Lay Down

    Hero And Heroine

    ROCKINGHAM ARMS, WENTWORTH - 8 SEP 2006

    ENCHANTING - Comments from Pete Madeley

    What a brilliant night. The assembled Witchwooders (Mike, Andy, Al, Ali and myself) agreed that this was the best Acoustic Strawbs performance we had seen.

    I felt the whole gig was enchanting: I don't use the word in a twee manner but to convey the spell that the interplay of the 3 Strawbs held us spellbound. DC sang the most passionately I have seen him for some considerable time (possibly ever). DL played with fervour and great subtlety. Chas played an excellent "Hargreaves-like" midfield holding role with occasional spectacular forays to the front.

    It seems churlish to point out a highspot when everything was so good, but the introduction of "The Battle" was as suprising as brilliant. Chas's footpedals really enhanced the mood of the song.

    A truly wonderful night.


    EVERYTHING WAS A HIGHLIGHT - Review from Mike Barker

    Having questioned whether it was worth attending this show due to a fairly static set list I'm now suffering from indigestion after consuming an excess of humble pie.

    Not only did we get three extra numbers than the Deal show but we also had The Battle and a genuine first 'Two Weeks Last Summer' including 'tinklies' - these had to be re-tuned following an abortive start :-).

    The show proved to be the best I've attended ...... the Witchwooders had a table at the middle front so acoustics were good. The band were in good humour despite a long journey up the M1. Andy Slack and I decided to by-pass the MI and go through the centre of Sheffield and encountered two fires and a road closure due to an accident - so much for avoiding traffic problems.

    Back to the concert ..... the performances were so good that it took me two days to realise that the Antique Suite was missing. One thing I did notice was that on Ghosts Chas' twelve string was much more to the fore and sounding like Brian W used to.

    Further good news came during the interval when Andy Slack won the raffle and true to his socialist background, rather than buying another item from the merchandise stall he demanded his money back on the CD that he'd bought earlier !!

    Can't say much more .... everything was a highlight.




    Photo by Alison Brown - more pics from Ali.


    Setlist

    Benedictus
    Simple Visions
    Tears And Pavan
    New World
    Heavy Disguise
    The Battle
    The Flower And The Young Man
    Shine On Silver Sun
    Cold Steel
    Autumn

    Ghosts
    Midnight Sun
    If
    The Golden Salamander
    Oh How She Changed
    Dragonfly
    Lay Down

    Hero And Heroine

    VILLAGE HALL, LOWDHAM - 9 SEP 2006

    AMAZING AND DIFFERENT EVERY TIME - Comments from Calli and Pete Bradley

    Lowdham is a large village on the A612 between Nottingham and Southwell. The frame knitting industry was important in the area in the 19th Century, at one point they had 94 stocking frames working. That concludes the comments from the web travelog.

    We found the village hall quite easily, (not that difficult really, as most of village life appears to centre around the site of the hall). More importantly, we managed to find the pub. Just as important as seeing the chaps perform - a pint and something to eat was very much desired.

    Great planning from the Strawbs Logistics Machine, just over the road from the venue, was the Old Ship Inn, which offered victuals, fluids and if necessary a place to lay your head. After a pint, a rather nice meal and bumping into Chas, (which is always great, he is always so friendly and oh whoop, sorry, I'm star struck and fawning again), we collected our belongings and started the hike over the road to the venue. The journey luckily was not that daunting, (100 yards is a distance), and we were very pleasantly surprised by the wonderful organisers of the event. Big thank you to Warthog Productions, for their kind hospitality and who ensured we had good seats, and appeared genuinely pleased that we had travelled all that way to their event. Great people, marvellous idea.

    Then onto the important bit - The Chaps. Well what can I say - brilliant, fantastic, breathtaking, WOW, fabulous voices, marvellous playing, the odd twang-but that's what makes seeing them live amazing and different every time, (it is soooo good to be able to see them live - we never tire of them). The audience were more lively and interactive, than Pete and I are used to, however the Chaps took it in their stride and carried on delighting the crowd. We smiled at the Basso Buffo, who for a moment got confused at the end of "Oh How She Changed" and blurted out the final line as DC finished - but hey, I never believed care in the community would work! Well done guys, don't know how you do it.

    The set list, was as per Wentworth, except they replaced "Two Weeks last Summer" with "If" - we were a bit sad about that, because we would have loved to have heard the acoustic line up version of "Two Weeks", but we still left that evening, smiling and chatting about how it was well worth the drive, what a wonderful time we had and how sad that we won't be able to see them again until the next UK tour.

    Look forward to everyone else's reviews about the next batch of gigs. Think of us missing out. ;o)

    Don't know why they didn't play Two Weeks Last Summer. We had a very long journey ahead of us, and so didn't hang around afterwards to quiz the guys. In a way, we were quite disappointed not to hear TWLS, and in a way we were very glad to still hear If, as we were quite sad when that seemed to disappear from the set-list. Can't have everything.

    Further comments from Pete:

    "The Battle" was fantastic. It used to be one of my least favourite Strawbs tracks, down there in the mire with "POTU". Since getting home listened to it on Tie Soup and Recollections, and still think that in both those incarnations it drones on a bit. The latest acoustic version though is terrific. My only reservation is that I would recommend that they played it in the second half rather than in the first half, as they now have three songs that include an a cappella section in the same half: "Benedictus", "The Flower and the Young Man" and "The Battle"




    Photo by Pete Bradley - more pics from Pete.


    BRING YOUR OWN DRINK - Comments from Paul Southby

    Well I never thought I'd see the band less than five miles from my house, so this was a special treat in so many ways. The last time I went to Lowdham Village Hall was when my daughter's hamster won third prize in a show for small rodents several years ago.

    The tickets said "bring your own drink", and the audience of about 200 had taken that as an order to be obeyed extravagantly ... the place was absolutely steaming, the crowd noisy (in mainly good but at times irritating ways), and the atmosphere hugely jolly. The performances were first rate, as good as anything I've seen for a while, and the guys were clearly enjoying themselves. DC was in fine voice and sang his heart out throughout. The opening few numbers were performed perfectly, and then a magnificent rendition of "The Battle" - first time I've heard it played live since the 1979 university tour with DC and Brian - made my evening.

    In the second half I came as close to throttling a crowd member as I ever have - a group of 8 or 10 next to us who were clearly off their trolleys, and who clearly knew none of the songs insisted on talking loudly through most of them much to the irritation of many, with one woman in particular shouting regularly "I only know one song" and at the invitation to "join in if you know the words to this one" ahead of Lay Down "Oh, it's that Union one isn't it". All I can say Madam is no it isn't, and you'd probably enjoy it more if you restricted yourself to just three bottles of wine next time.

    That aside it was a really, really great evening and I'm hopeful they'll be back. After announcing "We'll be back in another 30 years" at the end of the show, DC revealed he'd changed his mind and they'd be back in another 25 after the encore, so the signs are good.



    Setlist from Alison Brown

    Benedictus
    Simple Visions
    Tears And Pavan
    New World
    The Battle
    Shine On Silver Sun
    Cold Steel
    Autumn

    Ghosts
    Midnight Sun
    Two Weeks Last Summer
    Golden Salamander
    Oh How She Changed
    Dragonfly
    If
    Lay Down

    Hero And Heroine

    THE OLD TRAMSHED, SALTAIRE - 11 SEP 2006

    COOKING ON GAS - Review by Gerry O'Neill

    Wow, you missed a good'un. The Saltaire Old Tramshed gig was astounding.

    We arrived a little early, having overanticipated evening rush-hour traffic for our journey from Cheshire to Bradford; with the result that we were among the first to arrive at 6.45pm - and were treated to a sneak preview, as the lads were still doing their soundcheck run-through.

    The old tramshed is exactly that, an old tram shed right on the roundabout at Saltaire (Saltaire itself is an interesting place, being a 'model village', woollen mill and chapel, constructed by Victorian millowner and philanthropist, Sir Titus Salt, over 150 years ago.) The 'shed' has been converted and is now a very nice bar and brasserie.

    However the important thing is that it is acoustically a very appropriate venue for a gig such as last night's - the room is not too vast and deep, and no part of the audience was therefore more than 30 feet from the stage. Add to this a superb sound mixing and foldback job provided by 'Andy' and the stage was set for a performance which the lads thoroughly enjoyed (Dave C commented on it at the end of the night, as something which had contributed to them being able to hear exactly what they were playing, and therefore to their own enjoyment) and the audience's ability to enjoy the crystal clarity of every melodic note, twang and thrash which the band played and sang.

    The boys were certainly on form, in powerful clear voice, and thoroughly together (a very few fluffed finger fumbles still lets you know it's live). All three of them were playing their socks off; I was amazed at Chas's bank of foot effects pedals (which allow the Acoustic lineup to generate some of those strong choral and organ Strawbs effects); Dave Cousins was in fine voice through every one of the songs, with only a few croaks of the throat during his 'storytelling' interludes - ably cured by a swig from his pint glass; and what can I say about Lambert? The axeman was playing like a man possessed, generating noises both powerful and threatening at one end of the spectrum and then sweet and ringing at the other - and producing effects at the edge of what any acoustic guitar was designed for. In the "Hero And Heroine" encore he was so into his playing that he was transported to another place. As we left the venue, I remarked to him that they were all 'cooking on gas' tonight, but that he was clearly enjoying himself far too much. :-)

    This was my first Acoustic Strawbs gig. Very different from the Electric gig I saw in Sheffield in June (which I thoroughly enjoyed too). This one was more intimate and personal, and (as Dave C said during the performance) allows you the chance of hearing the songs in their "raw/just-composed" state, without studio processing and production. I think the major difference had to be the sound clarity this time around. Sheffield's Boardwalk was too loud, and therefore distorted and fuzzy. Saltaire was the precise opposite, and it was very interesting to compare how the acoustic guitars were used to reproduce sounds (as in the intros to "Autumn", "New World", "Hero And Heroine" and others) which are otherwise played on John Hawken's keyboards.

    A great night. Dave mentioned the possibility of an Electric tour in February 2007 - hopefully I'll be able to catch them then too.




    Photo by Lynne Madeley - more pics from Lynne.



    Photo by Alison Brown - more pics from Ali.


    Setlist from Graham Smith

    (Apologies - this is all the right songs, but not necessarily in the right order)
    Benedictus
    Simple Visions
    Tears and Pavan
    New World
    The Battle
    Shine On Silver Sun
    Cold Steel
    Autumn

    Ghosts
    Midnight Sun
    Two Weeks Last Summer
    Dragonfly
    Golden Salamander
    If
    Oh How She Changed
    Lay Down

    Hero And Heroine

    ROSEHILL THEATRE, WHITEHAVEN - 14 SEP 2006

    SOUNDTRACK OF MY LIFE: MY PRIVILEGE TO BE IN THE SAME ROOM - Review by John Graham Smith

    On the subject of reviews, I've been trying to put my thoughts into order regarding Thursday's gig at Whitehaven, knowing full well I won't be able to do it justice.

    You may have heard the Rosehill described as a scout hut on the side of a hill, and sadly it wasn't full - probably around 100 there. Dave Cousins said at one point that the band had an 11 hour drive to get there, and the weather had been typically Cumbrian - low cloud and rain earlier in the day, although by evening it had brightened up considerably. However there was no sign of tiredness, or disappointment from the band as they opened up with "Benedictus", "Simple Visions" and "Tears and Pavan". I've always liked the latter, but I don't think I've ever heard them play it better than on Thursday. Stunning.

    Later there was the highlight of the evening for me, which was " The Battle". Now this song has never been a particular favourite of mine. Although I thought it was one of the better tracks off the Tie Salad album I tend to like the later albums in general and had you asked me about it I would have said it was an OK track. However, the latest arrangement is terrific. Much less "polite" than the album verson somehow. Please please can we have it out on CD in another "Painted Sky" type recording?

    What else was great? All of it. I had read on an earlier post that Wentworth was the best Acoustic Strawbs gig ever. Hyperbole I thought. Anyway the electric line up is far better. Humble pie time. If Wentworth was half as good as Whitehaven it must have been magnificent. I don't know if the size of the Rosehill Theatre, which probably doesn't seat 150 people had anything to do with it, or whether it was just great mixing, but the sound quality was excellent. I'm not an expert, and Dave Lambert's guitar always comes across with a certain amount of venom, especially during "New World" but on Thursday Chas' bass had real punch too. During the more intricate parts of "Ghosts" everything (to my ears at least) was crystal clear. When they played "Dragonfly" and "Two Weeks Last Summer" it wasn't a coolish early autumn evening, it was a sultry late summer afternoon.

    Applause at the end was warm and enthusiastic and I hope the band don't let the long drive put them off coming again. I didn't have to rush home after the gig and so I was able to talk to the band after the gig. Well, I say I was able to talk, I probably came across as a burbling idiot. These guys are responsible for a large percentage of the soundtrack of my life and it was my privilege to be in the same room. I know that I wasn't the only person for who that was true.


    RAW FEELING - Comments from Shelly Tomlinson

    Be still my beating heart! (still palpitating from the full band at Penrith - two visits to the wilds of Cumbria in one year!) Thanks for making that eleven hour journey, lads - you wouldn't have known it from the performance. From previous reviews of this tour, I knew we were in for something special and it was STUPENDOUS. The set was the same as Saltaire (I think - too brilliant to stop to make note) and there's 'nowt I can say as hasn't previously been said'. "The Battle" was incredible - so much raw feeling in this and all the set, I could have cried - in the nicest way!

    D.C. stumbled at the beginning of "The Golden Salamander" but he got away with it and he owned up to forgetting the start of "Two Weeks Last Summer". When returning for the encore he said "We haven't been here for a long time" to which D.L replied " No, we've been here, we've just come back on ...it's his memory". I always think the "Rosehill" audience seem most restrained but the applause showed there was nothing lacking in their appreciation of tonight.

    Please don't leave it long to return - and thanks for signing my 'T shirt''.


    FOLK HOUSE, BRISTOL - 15 SEP 2006

    Comments from Heather Malcolm

    I'll leave the proper review to the man with the Bowood house secret, but I just have to say - what a fantastic gig! Every song felt like a huge treat. It's almost impossible to pick out a particular song, but the arrangement and playing, and especially DC's performance of "Hero And Heroine" was just sublime.


    AUDIENCE REACTION YOU'D EXPECT FROM A US CROWD! - Review from Phil Gregory

    Well, what a great evening! Met Nigel outside the Folk House and then DL turned up and had a quick chat, then Heather arrived and we could go in. The Folk House is only place I know of where your ticket is a piece of handwritten paper! I managed to get us great seats at the centre of what could loosely be described as the second row while Heather and Nigel got the drinks in. The support was a young lady with quite a good voice and adequate guitar skills. Then at just after 9 the boys came on and settled down.

    Now from the setlists of all the previous shows I was expecting Benedictus but nearly fell off my seat when they started with "Lay Down"! This was the first of many surprises in the running order which my memory is really struggling to remember! So the following is only a rough guide and needs to be verified by Nigel and Heather. Dave mentioned the box set numerous times and the choice of early songs showed his attention must have been focused on this early period by producing it. "Tears And Pavan" followed "Lay Down" and was beautifully played, then a stunning "Man Who Called Himself Jesus" (with a quiz relating to the spoken intro). Then the marvelously dreamy "Dragonfly" which is becoming a firm live favourite of mine. Then "Oh How She Changed" showed how DL can take a Tony Hooper song and do a fantastic job on it (I'd still love to hear Tony sing it though). I'm glad to see "Midnight Sun" is still in the set, this is a song I'd not paid too much attention to on record but live it really shines (sorry!).

    Then DL got his bells out! DC said this song was first sung by Sandy Denny and I knew we were in for "Two Weeks Last Summer" which was sung with real delicacy and received an amazing audience reaction. The first set closed with an excellent "Ghosts". I was beginning to worry that we might not hear "The Battle" but as the order had changed so much I was still hopeful. A measure of how relaxed the band must have been was that during the interval DC came back on stage to tune his guitar and one of the crowd took a copy of Tie Salad for him to sign which he cheerfully did, then another chap had a long conversation with him - normally I'd expect a fairly frosty reception until after the show.

    The second set order is a bit hazy but they started with a storming "New World", a beautiful "Flower And The Young Man". Dave then picked up his banjo for a superb "Cold Steel" - I really love this DL song, followed by a fantastic "Shine On Silver Sun" (with DC talking about his house in Alfington which is very close to where my sister in law lives and funnily enough when we were there in June we were walking along the river and came across a heron just as in the song).

    Then finally what I'd been hoping for, "The Battle" which was just superb with both Daves sharing a twin lead vocal, let's hope this stays in the set for a good long time. Then a masterful "Autumn" (massive cheers during the start of the song). The second set closed with what was the most incredible "Hero And Heroine" I've ever heard the acoustics do. This has been reworked considerably and DLs drumming was really powerful. The boys left the stage to a standing ovation.

    Shortly they returned and again surprised us with "Golden Salamander". Sadly it was all over and we sat and chatted about what a superb show it had been. I've a feeling I may have forgotten a song but can't think of it at present.

    The overall impression of the evening was that it was absolutely stunning! The playing, choice of songs and DC's inimitable patter earned a standing ovation and audience reaction you'd expect from a US crowd!

    What a contrast to the last show I attended, which was at Bowood House where 20 thousand people paid to see a collection of anonymous boy/girl bands, plus the Honeyz, Chico and Journey South (for the US fans they came 2nd and 3rd on X factor a similar show to American Idol) and every single one of them sang (or maybe not) over a backing track, not a musician in sight. Where is the justice in this world! I have also to say that I didn't pay - I was there on first aid duty, luckily the noise of the funfair drowned out much of the so called music!


    JUST THREE PEOPLE ON GUITAR WITH NO PYROTECHNICS - Comments from Phil Gregory

    The Bristol gig was just superb - great venue, great crowd including a number of young (i.e. 20 something) converts and even though DC was tired (and I'm not surprised as he explained the programme for the next few days at the bar later), this was one of the most powerful gigs I've ever been to - and just three people on guitar with no pyrotechnics! Superb!


    GUESSING GAMES - Comments from Nigel Bennett

    First Bristol where I met up with Heather and Phil G. as has already been reported. I would have met Jon Connolly (later to surface in Deal) but having never met him before - (Oi John where was your badge or was I not looking hard enough?) Never got to say hello then, but did later, albeit on the other side of the country.

    Phil has already remarked on the support and I have an observation there too. How can a solo artist have three faces? You may have to use your imagination a little here, but her rather low cut halter neck dress had a printed pattern that looked just like a rounded face in strategic areas. This intrigued me a little as I didn't know if it was a quirk of my imagination or actually meant to be, until she removed her guitar strap at the end of the show and revealed a mirror image on the other side. "Nice voice, no shame in having 3 faces" - all received equal appreciation, particularly of course the" Vega -esque" vocals.

    The band's running order changed significantly from previous shows of the tour and how I was looking forward to the recent additions. I was not disappointed - "Two Weeks Last Summer", "The Battle" and "Golden Salamander" rang fresh and new and the new order played guessing games in my mind as to what was coming next. Audiences in Bristol always are very appreciative of the guys' performances and were captivated by DL's contributions and intrigued those who had not seen him with the ebow before. Tonight was no different with the standing ovation to finish.


    JANGLY BITS WERE ALL THERE, THAT ALONE MADE THE TRIP FOR ME WORTHWHILE - Review by Jon Connolly

    I had already booked time off in October to catch some of the Acoustic Strawbs shows south of the Canadian border, but the lure of catching the great Dave Cousins doing something entirely different as promised was just too hard to resist. Two Weeks Last Summer is definitely in my top ten albums and the thought of catching Miller Anderson playing onstage with Dave only made the temptation all the greater.

    I flew in using travel points of catch two shows, I landed Friday morning and to make the most of the day made my way to Bristol to catch the Acoustic Strawbs at the Folk House. It was a good sounding hall with decent beer and a good crowd. The band treated the audience to spot on performances of many concert favorites, I'm glad to see "Midnight Sun" still in the set. "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus" has a whole new arrangement quite different to any of the recorded versions and was quite thrilling. I've always been a hit or miss on this song, generally skipping over it on the salad cover album, always listening to it on recollections, but this version was a standout with an excellent and in disguise intro by Dave Lambert.

    I couldn't believe my luck when the Strawbs did "Two Weeks Last Summer", it's so perfect, Dave's voice was lovely on this, the jangly bits were all there, that alone made the trip for me worthwhile.

    During the break I went and Begged Dave if I could record the second set. In Canada, I host a radio show called lost and Found, where we specialize in music not found on commercial radio. My friends jokingly call it "The Strawbs show" as I have devoted several specials to the band. Dave Cousins knows this and kindly let me record the second set. In the second set, it was a delight to hear "The Battle" put back into the set after decades of neglect. Now the song has the added polish of Chas Cronk on those amazing foot pedals of his which add just the right amount of orchestration to fill out of the sound, and the imaginative and always in sync guitar work from Dave Lambert. I found myself listening to this cut over and over in my hotel room that night. It was a treat to hear the band close with "The Golden Salamander", another song that I had not heard live in years.

    During and after the concert, I chatted to many in the audience. It always surprises me that the Strawbs are so well received in concert, and yet receive so little mainstream publicity. As usual I found many of them had stopped buying albums somewhere around Hero and Heroine or the Ghosts period, which is a great shame because Dave Cousins has written music nowadays and in the last few years that could match anything in his older back catalogue. I think a musical guide; some form of rating system for the non AM recordings might be in order at the witchwood site. Not all the recordings are for everyone, and a musical synopsis might help some of the older fans get reacquainted with the band. For me, I have no allegiance to any of the old albums, I like to hear Dave and the Strawbs do new stuff, but I also like hearing them reinvent older tunes. For me it is the songs I love not the albums and I love having lots of different versions of any of them, long may they do that.

    Jon's travelling tales continue on the Night At The Blue Angel page.


    Setlist

    Benedictus (Acapella start)
    Simple Visions
    Tear & Pavan
    Ghosts
    Midnight Sun (slower version)
    Oh How She Changed
    Autumn

    THE WINNING POST, WHITTON, AFTERNOON - 16 SEP 2006

    A GIG ALMOST TO MYSELF - Review by Steve Pritchards

    It's been 4 days since the Acoustic Strawbs mini-gig at Whitton but as usual this is the first chance I've had to get the computer to myself. The guys and myself had some things in common on this day; both had to be elsewhere Saturday night, both had to be in the Midlands (they for private gig, me for mate's 50th) and so both only had a short time to hang around. So it was, armed with two of these facts (didn't know about the Midlands until the last song - might have cadged a lift!!) that I journeyed north via The Winning Post at Whitton.

    On arrival the scene outside could have been there just for me as the local constabulary had old, recent and modern versions of patrol cars on show. The gigs were part of a charity event and Strawbs were just one of a number of bands playing all day. I rolled in at 2pm, the guys were scheduled on at 3. The place has a large L shaped area comprising of two stages both set up for the day. There were a number of tables but what was immediately noticeable was the crowd or rather the lack of. There were a number of people with 'backstage passes' round there necks but paying punters were thin on the ground.

    It peeved to pay 20 just to see the band but it was pay for all day or nothing. I bought a beer, sat where I could see the door and waited to see if any other 'wooder would put in an appearance. Part of the hour was filled by a guy, who never introduced himself, playing nifty blues guitar but with a dodgy voice. I saw the guys troop in ready for their 3pm slot so made my way neared the stage. I needn't have worried, the number of punters had barely increased. Whilst the guys tuned up I counted about 20 paying customers and me the sole Witchwood representative. It was the closest I'd come to a private gig all to myself.

    Still despite the painfully low numbers the guys played with their usual consummate professionalism. Barely no chat from DC in order to squeeze in the maximum amount of material (only time for 40 mins). Beginning at 3.05 precisely the set was [as listed in the Setlist box] and that was it. Finished by 3.50, barely had time to enjoy it before it was over!

    Everything you expected from those songs were, Chas's foot pedals included. No changes of guitars though and no encore or if there was I missed it. DC came off stage, the announcer said "Big hand for the Strawbs" and I was out and off to catch my train - which I missed by the way!!

    Strange gig all in all; at just over 2.85 a song and I've never, ever been to gig where at least one other of our merry throng wasn't present. Ah well small but perfectly put together.


    Rough Setlist from Dick Greener

    I think the setlist looks something like this - will confirm when I get back (off to Deal now for the Night At The Blue Angel one-off show).

    Lay Down
    Tears And Pavan
    The Man Who Called Himself Jesus
    Dragonfly
    Oh How She Changed
    Midnight Sun
    Two Weeks Last Summer
    Ghosts

    The Flower And The Young Man
    Cold Steel
    Shine On Silver Sun
    The Battle
    Autumn
    Hero And Heroine

    The Golden Salamander

    PRIVATE PARTY - 16 SEP 2006, EVENING

    CH-CH-CHANGES - Review by Dick Greener

    Bob and Lou's private Acoustic Strawbs show are always a GREAT pleasure to attend - thanks for running them, you two - it gives an opportunity to see the guys perform in intimate surroundings and to relax and have a chat and a few beers afterwards. This Saturday was no exception, with entertainment before hand from various folks - from Nick and Sue, my good self and Bob and Lou before the Acoustics took to the stage area.

    And ... big changes to the running order and a surprise return, instituted the previous night in Bristol, are here to stay. From earlier in the tour when four Grave New World numbers featured - "Benedictus", "New World", "Flower" and "Heavy Disguise" (that last item only just introduced this tour !) - we're down to one, Flower, replacing them with two Tie Salad tracks (joining "Oh How She Changed" which continues to impress and "Two Weeks Last Summer" which is of that era even if it didn't emerge until '72 on Dave's solo album. A very interesting dual-pronged emphasis on the earlier days of the band, and the Hero And Heroine period.

    Sue and Nick gave us The Eagles "Peaceful Easy Feeling", a couple of Mary Chapin Carpenter songs including "The Moon and St Christopher", which featured Nick 's excellent accompaniment on a rather spiffy Variax guitar, the Everly Brothers "Dream" for everyone to singalong, as well as one of her own. I did a couple of Strawbs songs themed to the celebration of Bob's birthday to which this event was loosely connected - live for the first time at an Acoustic Strawbs show, the Tony Hooper song "Young Again", followed by "On Growing Older". Then Bob and Lou gave us the old standard "Whispering Grass" followed by "It's Just My Way Of Loving You", then brought Chas up on stage to join them on bass for "The King".

    Next up, the Acoustic Strawbs. Gone is the "Benedictus/Simple Visions" opening medley, replaced by bringing "Lay Down" with its acapella opening to the front of the show. "Tears And Pavan" follows. Also in the first half, the surprise re-entry of the Acoustics' rocking riff-laden version of "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus" - very powerful, very worthwhile. The eerie e-Bow tinged "Dragonfly" has moved up from the second half, accompanied by "Oh How She Changed".

    One of the two new numbers I'd not heard before tonight "Two Weeks Last Summer" is a delicate, intricate interplay of the three guitars - I'd been expecting Chas to feature on bass - remember Roger Glover's booming bass notes on the TLS version - but he's on 12 string; Lambert opening with a handful of shells in front of the microphone to get the "tinklies" effect. "Ghosts" returns to the end of Act 1.

    Excellent opening for the second half - acapella again to the fore - with "Flower And The Young Man". The two banjo numbers - "Cold Steel" - particularly good I thought - and "Shine On Silver Sun" move to Act 2 as does "Autumn", breaking up the longtime Act 1 finale and, in the process, adding back a little zest.

    The other "new" number, an absolute tour de force rendition of "The Battle", all 11 verses (I was counting), as they mixed vocal strength with intricate guitar interplay, Chas's bass pedals adding orchestral textures. It's going to take a good couple of re-runs of that before I can do it justice with a review. It's stunning.

    An absolutely splendid night, all the more amazing as Dave Cousins was stricken with a tummy bug earlier in the day and wasn't in the best of physical health earlier last night - there was absolutely no sign at all of any of that in the passion and power of his delivery on stage. A very good natter with Strawbs and friends after the show and to bed JUST before 3.00am ..... I was apparently being restrained (!)


    Comments from Les Cotton

    Over to the Midlands on Saturday, to attend Bob and Lou's private party, with special guest the Acoustic Strawbs of course. A lovely evening, with several guest artists including Sue and Nick, Dick G (incidentally playing a guitar with a some real history....DC's original 6 string Ovation, which is now Dick's property..), and Bob and Lou themselves. Acoustics' set detailed elswhere, fantastic "Two Weeks Last Summer"and "The Battle", stunning clarity of mix from Paul on the desk.... and to end, a "cheeky chappy" dressed in real Cockney (Londoner..) "Pearly King" type suit, playing his heart out on the squeezebox and singing a medley of Cockney songs "to make the lads feel at home", as Bob put it...great stuff.




    Photo by Les Cotton - more pics from Les on Strawbsweb.


    ON THE SUPERB SIDE OF EXCELLENT - Comments from Nigel Bennett

    And so to Birmingham and with the band re-acquainted with well trusted sound man Paul, they produced a tremendous performance; the sound was on the superb side of excellent allowing TWLS to drift into one of my tucked away memory of highlights. The running order differed only slightly in content from the previous night, with no "New World". The evening's entertainment was augmented by a few humorous stories from DC and of course more musical entertainment from Nick and Sue, Bob and Lou - accompanied by Chas on bass for one number and also our own DG, who resisted the opportunity of the stools to deliver his offerings standing on two legs. Although, it would have been rather odd if he had come up, with a third.

    Bob and Lou are forever the most generous hosts and words cannot really describe all of their efforts and generosity in always making the night a huge success. I am sure everyone recognises the event as one of the special nights of the year so once again a resounding thank you. By now Les C , his wife Sue and Ali had joined our happy band of travellers.

    Tonight's planned early night turned into a reasonably early one at 2.30 ish - with Deal tomorrow, on good advice from a learned traveller; I was learning to pace myself.

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    Photo by Alison Brown- more pics from Ali.


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