Updated: 23 Dec 2007
Set 1 - Benedictus
Heroine's Theme/New World
The Flower And The Young Man
The Hangman and the Papist
You And I When We Were Young
Part of the Union
Set 2 - Acoustics
Oh How She Changed
We'll Meet Again
Set 3 - Cry No More
Don't Leave Me Here
Set 4 - Blue Angel Orchestra
Never Take Sweets From a Stranger
Orange Blossom Special
House of the Rising Sun - (led by Miller Anderson)
Skip to My Lou
Set 5 - Dave Lambert with the Blue Angel Orchestra
Come On Everybody
Johnny B Goode
STRAWBS CHRISTMAS PARTY, NPL, TEDDINGTON, 8 DEC 2007
A fun night was had by all at the NPL, although there was a tinge of sadness in that Tony Grimmer, who has managed the social club there for the last fourteen years is leaving. This is the last Strawbs Xmas party at the NPL that he will hold.
Also very sad that Brian Willoughby was playing with the Three Mustgetbeers that night as well, and so we weren't able to see him. If you happen to be a fan of almost any other band you might get to see them play once every fifteen years, and then only if you could afford to remortgage in order to buy tickets from e-bay. With the Strawbs, this was the second weekend in a row that we'd had a choice of venues. Can't believe how lucky we are to be Strawbs fans.
Sad too for all of the absent friends who would have loved to have been there but couldn't owing to things such as oceans that are in the way.
Some fabulous fancy dress at the party, but there were still quite a large number of people who had gone in their normal civvies. Guess they are all heroes in one way or another, putting up with all of the adversaries that life throws at them, so I guess that counts. Seemed like that were Strawbs fans from all over Europe who had come as well.
Chas was in charge of organising the technical aspects of the stage, and he did an amazing job, considering the number of different acts that needed to be swapped over. Intervals were actually very short, and the transitions from one act to another all went really smoothly. Slightly longer interval at one stage so that we all had a chance to nibble from the excellent spread that Tony had put on. How will we cope next year without him?
The evening opened with Benedictus. How amazing is that? Most tribute bands pay tribute to acts that are no longer around, or who never tour, so there is never likely to be any conflict with the original members, but you would imagine that there could be serious competition between a tribute band and an actively busy band. There's always the risk that if your tribute band are rubbish then they might put off prospective punters from buying your records. I think it is extraordinarily generous that the Strawbs endorsed Benedictus like this. It shows (a) just how good Benedictus actually are, and (b) just how much the Strawbs trust the loyalty of their fans.
Yes, Benedictus were good. Particularly impressed with their drummer, who I believe was only 17. He did a sterling job on Part of the Union, thumping away just like Hud.
Loved the way that they opened with the introduction to "Autumn", and then switched to "New World". As far as I know, the Strawbs have never done this, so it shows that Benedictus don't just attempt to ape the sound of the original records but put their own interpretations on the material.
Have to say, as well, that there was some excellent bass from our own Alex. Particularly noticeable during New World.
Second on the bill was the Acoustics. They played a short set, with a selection of songs neatly chosen so as not to conflict with anything that Benedictus had played (other than a repeat of "Heroine's Theme" when they played the whole of "Autumn"). I cannot put my finger on what it is that the Strawbs have. We'd just seen an excellent five piece band of young, vibrant and talented musicians playing Strawbs material, but somehow, as soon as these three start to play you are just blown away. Dave Lambert has enormous charisma, even when sitting on a stool, but there is far more to the Strawbs than that. Don't know how they do it.
I'm one of those people who like to listen to my music in quiet surroundings. Background noises from the audience usually annoy me. So when the audience started to sing along, at first I wanted to shout to them to shut up. Then I realised that this was a party. A lot of people had come a long way to be there and they needed to join in. Made it quite an unusual Strawbs concert, but none-the-less enjoyable. Phenomenal amount of whoops and cheers from the Stuttgart contingency.
I simply adored Cry No More. Only complaint was they weren't on long enough. I just love the way Roy does his utmost to put Chas off. He gives Chas no notice as to what song he's going to do next, will stop in the middle of a song for some long rambling monologue, and will suddenly burst into a torrent of foul language. Chas just takes it all in his stride.
The Blue Angel Orchestra were up next. Highlights were Dave C's beautiful tracks from The Boy in the Sailor Suit, but we were treated to Ian's storming rendition of "Orange Blossom Special", and also to Miller taking the lead on "House of the Rising Sun". OK, it was all a highlight.
Chas, who had played with the Acoustics, Cry No More and the Blue Angel Orchestra joined Miller, Chris and Ian for the final set, this time led by Dave L, who rounded the evening off with some good old rock and roll. There was only time for three songs, before Dave had to close ("It's drinkies time.")
Next year the Strawbs will be celebrating the fortieth year since the release of their first single, and they are bound to put on some fabulous extravaganza, but how can they top that?
Photo by Pete Bradley - more pix from Pete.
The day started well, torrential rain and howling gales but Les had arrived safely from way 'oop North in the middle of the night, and parked his mobile home on the drive in readiness for a lunchtime departure.
Wet conditions for our drive up the M3 for the third time in a week after the Fire shows last week and I banned him from breathing in the car as my demister had packed up. Its going to cost £86 to fix so any donations (ha ha) will be gratefully received.
Arrived at the Travelodge in very good time despite splashing through a few puddles that seemed almost as deep as the Atlantic, but as that did not prevent Laura and Melinda arriving, so there was little excuse for us, or others from just the other side of the English Channel.
Walked in to the check in had been beaten by a few minutes, by Lindsay and Carole they were hogging the desk and sorting out all their "arrangements". We waited patiently behind.
Sue H had arrived a little earlier and organised the staff by getting everyone on the 5th floor by using the secret password "Witchwood" which had enjoyed a greater degree of protection than those discs lost by Government departments in recent weeks. All but Les it seems, but a quick bit of swapping keys and hey presto he got there as well.
Bless Sue she had spent weeks canvassing Witchwood for taxi requirements, but in the few days before the event spent more days re-arranging them following events of the week before where we had received an invitation from Sue & Neil for those at the Fire gigs, for pre party drinkies and nibbles before heading to the NPL. (Fine and generous hosts they were too).
Then having agreed a meet time we found out poor Paul B had succumbed to some lurgi and wouldn't be there or Heather ..but just by coincidence Jakki found two others so after thinking about rearranging taxis for less, magically we were then back up to number. Except that is for Ali (we were leaving at 4.30) who at 4.20 phoned me to say finding the Travelodge, after a horrendous trip down, was a bit of a problem. Scrambled instructions of how to negotiate the Feltham high street were given, hoping she made it she did by the skin of teeth and all the first party for taxis were ready.
Voila ! two taxis arrived on time half set off only for Lindsay to phone a few minutes later saying where is our driver (it seems he went "walkabout" ) so we phoned the company organised another in five minutes time then the original one turned up !!! So back to cancel the third one. There was heavy traffic on the airwaves.
Oh I missed the bit about squeezing Sue in the taxi and I'm not insinuating anything. (but if Pete thinks he had trouble getting stopped by the police) Where was Mike, aka Batman when this was going on - no idea. Perhaps he should have been with us trying to push Sue in with a dress stiffed at the widest (the bottom of the dress!!) by an unbending stout wire (oh if only I carried wire cutters about all of the time oh how it would have been a bit easier).
Somehow we managed to get both Sue and her dress in to the taxi and we sped off to the previously announced destination. Oh except that we forgot the number of the house we should have been at .we were just about to run a way like naughty schoolchildren knocking on a door for a Halloween trick or treat, when a friendly face appeared at the door and we got in for our nibbles.
The inclement weather meant we didn't do our fancy dress parade down Teddington high street, which had to be cancelled, and we quickly ordered yet more taxis.
Was it still only 7.00 o'clock??? Phew!
NPL brought loads more friendly faces and had the chance to re-acquaint with some we had not seen for months in the hours or so before Benedictus took to the stage. Now I have to admit I had been given a sneak preview of their set list when I went to their warm up show in the week before, but for many this would have been the first time they had heard them. One could imagine a few nerves may have been jangling on the stage playing for the first time in front of a house full of long standing fans, let alone the band.
Needless to say they didn't let themselves down and in a set of 30 minutes or so covered a number of Strawbs classics ( all set lists see P Bradley) that were received with loud applause and satisfied smiles on stage. (at least that was how it seemed as they peered from under their menacing "Western " masks.
A quick change on stage led to the Acoustics taking over for a set shortened to fit the needs of the night, including the sumptuous buffet provided to satisfy the hunger pangs of the gathered throng, who were already well into the party spirit and beer and wine and cider, not to mention a little drop of water to help the night along.
Before I move on to Cry No More ..A word or two for all the foreign travellers "Hello" and "Gutentag". Hope they understand my English pronunciation.
Cry No more just four songs but wasn't it great to see Roy and Chas warming up for their show on the 28th. I even managed to usurp them with a lead vocal of "have a banana" during "holiday". This is a feat that I shall be repeating hopefully at the Turks Head along with countless others.
Hope they both had fun we did!
A little more "refreshment" before Blue Angel took over the stage for their party time set including Miller Anderson taking the lead vocal on House of the Rising Sun. Orange blossom special seemed to engender tremendous enthusiasm on stage with Ian Cutler having a very quick and energetic fiddle. This got faster and faster till we hit the buffers that should read buffet!
After this Dave L took over from Dave C using an acoustic guitar to lead the Rock and Roll section. The energy was really picking up with Kate and Calli leading dancing and the audience somehow creating some space where there had been none before great end to this musical evening with fancy dresses galore.
Then it was all back to the taxis I think I avoided squeezing Sue in this time, although perhaps I did? A fast trip it seemed! and we were all back to our original place of departure. Some decided FD had been on too long, (now before any is thinking Foggy Dew-O, because half in the shape of Danny Clarke had been at the party, please insert Fancy dress in place of FD) and changed but now sitting patiently in the bar and we were waiting for a strum to come along.
Much to our disgust the bar was going to shut at 1.00, but a little "gentle" persuasion kept it open to 1.30, which was pretty long enough as by then they had started running out of all of our favourite stuff to drink.
Well yes we did get to do a few "songs" .Mr G did need a little coaxing (he was being a little shy) but soon him and Les and PR (that's Pete Rand not our public relations guru) got in the swing as the rest of us mumbled the words. With out the inspirational Mr Brazier we never attempted "The Battle" but settled on some shorter ditties and for now, Benedictus don't have to worry too much about us being a new tribute band in the making.
We called time around 3.30 and now I think I have given everyone in our Witchwood party a little mention, it's now time for me to end this little glimpse of Feltham and I am pleased say everyone was living happily in the morning.
Photo by Alison Brown - more pix from Ali.