Updated: 28 Feb 2008
Never Take Sweets From A Stranger
Ringing Down The Years
Josephine For Better Or For Worse
Ways And Means
Song Of A Sad Little Girl
Beside The Rio Grande
The Smile You Left Behind
The Shepherd's Song
The Hangman And The Papist
Wish You Were Here
I'll Show You Where To Sleep
The Call To Action
We'll Meet Again Sometime
Skip To My Lou
COUSINS & CUTLER, THE BARGE, GILLINGHAM - 25 FEB 2008
The Barge isn't the easiest place to find, especially when Multimap suggests you try and turn into the road leading to it - which is twenty feet above your head as you drive along Pier Road. However once you weave your way through the narrow residential streets of Gillingham and park a good bit away (good tip Sue!), it turns out to be a friendly local boozer, whose landlord welcomes you with a simile and free folk music. Tonight, it's the world debut of the Cousins/Cutler duo, shortly to travel to the US for a series of dates in March. Having decided to get ahead of the delights of the Blackwall Tunnel at rush hour I get there ludicrously early but am happy to sit and await the arrival of Sue and Mike Holton and the duo and entourage (including Gracie the rock dog!).
There was some faffing about on the PA side throughout the gig, with monitors not working, and at the beginning of the second half nothing coming through at all (as far as I could make out). But with the sterling services of SJ and Vince Martin who travelled up from Deal with Dave, things got sorted out and the gig started.
Highlights for me:
"Ways And Means" - one of my favourite songs from Two Weeks - Ian plays a jaunty little phrase alongside Cousins' acoustic guitar figure, and the whole thing kicks up into high gear on the chorus with some forceful strumming from Dave. I'd always thought this song would be a natural for acoustic treatment and it is.
"I'll Show You Where To Sleep" - using the guitar tuning taught to him by Joni Mitchell, this features Dave playing chords over the top of the neck (see photo below). He showed us this at Bilston, but it was very late in the night (or early in the morning) and it's great to watch how this works.
"The Call To Action" - an opportunity for Dave's rock voice to stretch out, the staccato fiddle over Dave's percussive, slightly discordant strumming, gives the whole thing a rather appropriate moorish feel to it - straight out if the souk and into the folk club ! Later on a keening violin solo adds to the atmosphere.
"Blue Angel" - a nice surprise to have this included - DC's vocals very expressive, and as we heard back in Chatham with the Three Cs, the fiddle fits in extremely well with the instrumentation of this complex song.
"We'll Meet Again Sometime" - another from Two Weeks, and a good reworking from the crowd-pleasing encore employed by both acoustic and electric Strawbs, with some excellent accompaniment from Ian and some nice instrumental breaks - of course with just one voice, it can't have the explosive vocal ending, but it's a splendid version.
"Skip To My Lou" - when you think that the recorded version and the live (and loud) BAO version of this song has bass and drums and lead guitar on it as well as these two, you might be forgiven for thinking that as a duo piece it might come over rather anemically. But there's absolutely no question of that - it rocks, and is the perfect encore.
I reckon "The Smile You Left Behind" would have been a highlight too; sadly it was all but drowned out by the news from the bar - the only unfortunate thing about free entertainment is that not everyone is here to listen to the music ....
All in all an excellent debut - a few rough edges to smooth away, and a few moments where it looked as though DC might have dealt Ian a few surprise chords ("follow that!") - but that'll quickly sort itself out. Expect a bit of adaptation for the US shows, some other songs dropped in, and probably some changes to the running order, but broadly this will be a good indicator of what the setlist for the tour will look like (cersainly for the first half with Ian along). Those of you lucky enough to be going are in for a real treat - I've booked my flights and I'm grinning even now at the prospect!
("I'm on my way, it won't be long, I'm going soon ....!" - ad lib to end ;-)
Photos by Dick Greener - more of Dick's photos
Photos by Sue Holton - more of Sue's photos