Updated: 17 June 2008
Part 1 - from Sheffield (21 May) to Builth Wells (28 May)
Lindsay on Tour
For comments and pictures on the Bilston "Strawberry Mousse" get together, see forthcoming Strawberry Mousse page"
ROBIN 2, BILSTON - THURSDAY 29 MAY 2008
Having seen the Hero and Heroine band last at Bilston, and enjoyed the gig and venue immensely, I was really looking forward to this show. On the night, it was an evening of surprises, all of them pleasant.
First, a good long chat with Dick in the bar beforehand. I am now quite sold on a visit to the Christmas party later in the year. Something else to look forward to! My mother is already knitting my all in one costume Dick!
Next, most of the seats had gone. Hurray! Last time, a large seating area had been set out, but some way from the stage, leaving a strange no-man's land between band and audience which no one was prepared to stand in for fear of obscuring the view of the seated ones. In a venue like this, and for this band, standing is best for those who can, and there was some seating down the side for those who wanted it. Well done, whoever's idea that was!
Then, the volume. So loud that on occasions my trousers vibrated. I liked that.
Then Dave Cousins' voice. The band were great, of course they were, but DC sang as powerfully as I have seen him sing for years, hanging on to those long notes until he was purple in the face. He was visibly wrapped up in the songs, as he usually is, but there was real intensity there particularly in his delivery of the new songs, The Broken Hearted Bride, and The Call To Action, neither of which I had heard before.
Those songs were the final surprise. Sometimes when you hear new stuff at a gig you can't help but feel a tinge of disappointment, usually borne by unfamiliarity with the material, sometimes because it doesn't match the quality of output from the "classic" years. However, these songs were immediately compelling, particularly "Call". DC said that the band were back to doing what they used to, namely writing about what was going on in the world around them, and the passion that comes with that seems to have given real life to these new songs. It seemed DC/ the band were proud of them too, and I can't wait for the album to arrive.
Over the last 10 years or so since I started seeing the band again (having seen them several times between '73 and '79) they have given me real pleasure as I know they have to many other fans old and new, and I thank them all for that. Sometimes I wonder if DC is entirely well in terms of his health, or whether it is just that the intensity of these performances knocks a man of his age up a bit on tour. I guess the latter is inevitable, and I hope that all is well otherwise. This was such a satisfying night, I just can't imagine them not being back to see me "in another 30 years", to coin a well oiled phrase!
Bilston again and last night's performance in the Robin was stunning and rocked the cobwebs off the ceiling. The Robin, for those who don't know, is an archetypal rock venue where you stick to the floor thanks to countless years of wasted drinks leaking all over it. Not only that, a standing venue to boot. Great even though the few seats around were quickly grabbed as the venue opened at 7pm
The high octane performance took us through the stratosphere and back again as songs such as "Here Today Gone Tomorrow" briefly gave our ears a little time to recover from the crescendo of sound permeating our eardrums.
On the first night in Sheffield the band had played their set straight through and so it was to prove tonight, unlike the other venues where it was split into two sets. Having been around for most of the tour so far I must say that I have seen some great versions of "You And I" and last night was no different. "The Hawk's" keyboard wonderfully setting the scene at the start and ending with a final flourishing finale that even in this crowded venue had everyone captivated and hanging on to every single stroke of a key which delivers a majesty to the end of the song.
The title track of the new album brings the first new song of the evening "The Broken Hearted Bride" and there has been a very favourable reaction to this song which most are hearing for the very first time. It may have been a bit of a surprise when "Grace Darling" re-appeared in the set but what a great addition it has been to the set - the full choral effect at the start and running through the song making the sound very full and just how you would remember it from the recording.
I have overlooked "Burning For Me" which has always been one of my favourite tracks and this tour has certainly cemented that feeling. From the theme running through to the powerhouse finish, it creates a unique and haunting mood that cannot do any thing other than generate an atmospheric feeling in your mind which is what I am sure is just the intention. "Autumn" was played as beautifully as ever and although there was no mass sway in evidence as in the DVD shoot a quick glance to left and right saw many doing there own thing either singularly or in couples and many miming the words or singing. Any hope of a refill in glasses was thwarted as the band struck in to a very powerful "New World". Little did I realize Pete Rand had already recognized the failing thirsts and came back armed with the appropriate supplies.
Photos by Alan Perry - more great photos from Alan
If "New World" was powerful the theme continued apace with another fantastic rendition of "The River/Down By The Sea" with a fantastic guitar flourish from Dave Lambert to finish and he took that through to "Heartbreaker" - as good as I have ever heard it.
The pace slowed for a beautifully played "Here Today Gone Tomorrow" tribute with DC on vocals and John's keys before being joined by masters of their own instruments Chas and Rod adding to the mix towards the end in their own very talented way - a haunting and moving tribute to the memory of Mike Gebhardt.
"The Call To Action" has certainly proved to be the surprise wow factor on the tour. Amazing. Tonight was no different drawing huge applause from the large audience. Rod's solo brought gasps of admiration and to finish there can be nothing other than the fast pace of "Hero And Heroine" leaving the audience clamouring for more. "We'll Meet Again Sometime" delivered and brought to a close virtually two hours of brilliant entertainment. Fantastic.
This tour will stick in the memory for a very long time........ . because this is Strawbs and as we all know the songs are timeless and will last simply Forever.
Wow, what a great evening/night - wall to wall music...But before I go on about it a few Thank Yous...
Firstly to Nigel for organising the taxis and Chocolate cake (for Lindsea's birthday) and Peter Rand for organising the drinks and midnight snacks. The evening seemed to run so smoothly, it was very relaxing. Secondly for the welcome from all the other Witchwooders - it was great to meet new friends who rapidly become 'old' friends. Then lastly but no means least to all the Witchwooders who brought their guitars etc to provide ongoing musically entertainment after the gig.. It was great singing along into the wee small hours (apologies about my rather flat singing...I blame 2 months of ill health - pleurisy followed by chronic hayfever)..... Loved singing all the Strawb songs but also ainging "American Pie" was BRILLIANT...
As to the the gig itself, WOW...apart from Cropredy I've never seen the full electric line up perform live. Whilst Cropredy was great, hearing The Strawbs at Robin2 was awesome. Nigel's written at length about the set, but I'd like to say I couldn't have wished for a better set list....all my favourites plus "The Broken Hearted Bride" and "The Call To Action". Wish I could have caught all the lyrics of BHB (will have to wait for the album :( )....loved CTA... I was taking photos throughout the concert and caught DC snaking arms in one pic....
I'm pleased to say the venue proved good for photos and I took loads...and received a lovely compliment, from a couple of guys in Strawbs t-shirts who were just behind me and could see my camera screen, about how well I was framing them..... I've let Les download them as I have problems with lack of broadband so hopefully they will get into 'the albums' when he has time [link to follow]
Took a couple at the end of some rather tired Strawbs but it's not suprising the sheer energy they put into every song, There are also some of the after concert strumalong, and others.
Photo by Alison Brown - more pictures from Ali
I have just now got over the jet lag that always follows two nights out with fellow Witchwooders.
Arrived just after 2pm on 29th (first one there - quickly followed by Ralph and Ali) - given the urgent need for serious planning and unpacking we both headed straight for the bar to discuss tactics.
Shortly thereafter, Heather, Les, and Andy arrived, and by teatime we nearly had enough to form our own football team - Dick, Lindsay, Dave C, Jane, Nigel, Les, Kevin and Jo having arrived.
After a few more beers and a round of meals we were ready to be driven in a fleet of taxis to the Robin2.
Once in the bar at the Robin, I was introduced to the kind soul who gave me her spare ticket last year (though in return for a packet of crisps) - no snacks changed hands this year however.
The gig itself was really good - I had been to Morecambe but this one was even better - (a) because it was in the dark, (b) we were standing up ,(c) the vocals seemed to be clearer (especially in the two new songs) and (d) we had sticky floors - if the Earth ever loses gravity we had better all head to Bilston to stick to that carpet once again.
Also managed to say hello to Adrian and a few others who were up for the gig itself.
Jane has put the set list in with her photos - but the band were in storming form all round. I'm sure others have/will put more meat on the bones of the gig - but it was excellent.
Then it was back to the Quality Inn for a post-gig strum and drink-a-thon - which was no mean feat considering there was no bar available by the time we arrived back - the kind all-night porters did the trick and somehow managed to find food and drink enough to fuel our entertainment.
At around 3am sensible Dick decided to call it a day and (I think!) everybody followed..
Just a few lines to say thanks to DC for making me very happy. Went to The Robin last week to see the lads....BLOODY FANTASTIC.!!!!!! DC voice was 10 out of 10, the whole band zapped. New songs brill apart from the one with touches of Arabic, told this to DC afterwards - he says wait till you hear it a few times. Please say a big thanks to DC for allowing me to record a video for my kid brother, he was blown away because he could not see the lads on the night. First seen Strawbs in Coventry same time as the release of Hero And Heroine when only a kid, now 52 - still brilliant. WELL DONE BOYS
PLAYHOUSE, SLEAFORD - FRIDAY 30 MAY 2008
After an absolutely great night at Bilston, I was thinking of titling this as Bilston, The Sequel. Tonight's performance changed that! It should be "Strawbs Storm Sleaford" so,
If you have not been to the Sleaford Playhouse, it is a small rural theatre with a warm welcoming atmosphere and quite a 'vibrant' event schedule for a medium sized market town. Nevertheless, when the Acoustic Strawbs played Sleaford earlier in the year, they received such a good response they announced that they would be bringing the electric band and they were true to their word. The afore-mentioned Acoustic set was great but the Electric Strawbs left all gasping for more and I believe more than a few 'converts'.
The set was the same as Bilston and as ever, the artistry and consequently the music was exceptional (not that we have come to expect anything different). I know I rave about the way the Acoustic Strawbs cross play melodies, I also witnessed this with the Electric Band. Right from the starting bars of "Lay Down" the band had the audience "in the palm of their hands" responding to the differing changes to the tempos of the music - through "Out In The Cold", "Burning For Me", "Grace Darling" and the new songs from The Broken Hearted Bride; (I have observed new songs often are not received well in other band's gigs) were enjoyed fully by all and the band clearly enjoyed the reaction of the audience.
When DC introduces "Autumn" it takes you back to memories of autumn days past, but when he dedicated "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" from Deja Fou to Mike Gebhardt, I could almost see the memories in DC's eyes, like pictures in his mind, whispers in the mists of time.
I mistakenly thought that I knew what was going to happen, having been the night before, except we were in for another 'treat' from the 'boys' when they really revved up "Autumn" much to the surprise and delight of everyone. I have mixed thoughts about politics and music mixing but the anger in "The Call to Action" about all forms of fundamentalism was apparent an apt comment here may be "After all it's just the revolution we despise"….(DC please forgive the mis-quote).
I need to go and put the wax back into my ears now, the Strawbs truly stormed Sleaford, another success for the band and Sleaford.
Photos by Alison Brown - more pictures from Ali
After a phenomenal night at Bilston in a venue entirely suited to The Strawbs I wasn't sure what to expect as I set off for Sleaford. I had never been to the town before and was initially struck by how genteel the little Georgian Playhouse Theatre looked. The sense of contrast and incongruity increased as a delightfully quaint and quiet lady introduced the show to a backdrop of posters advertising productions of 'Blithe Spirit' (or something like that). Did they know what to expect??
The assembled crowd was a mixture of Witchwooders, visiting Australians and unsuspecting locals of all ages and the set was as Bilston. There was a brief break, which was perhaps just as well as some of the crowd needed to catch their breath as this was a performance of overwhelming power, passion and precision.
DC commented at the end that he hoped we weren't all covered in cobwebs - there certainly weren't any left in the rafters after they'd finished as they'd shaken the bulding to its foundations.
At one point someone in the balcony shouted out 'I hope you're recording this'. (DC quipped 'No - I hope you're not!) This, however, was a timely reminder for me that to the uninitiated this must have seemed an exceptional performance: to those 'in the know' this is what The Strawbs can do every night - and we take it for granted!
The audience begged very loudly for more and were treated to "We'll Meet Again Sometime". There certainly were some 'converts': one lady told me she had never heard them before but was one of the first on her feet at the end, applauding wildly and looking completely mesmerised. Another spoke to DL after the concert, very much impressed with his beautiful voice and delivery.
Personal highlights have to include "The River/ Down By The Sea", "The Broken Hearted Bride" and "The Call To Action". (I notice that 'rosary' had become 'Bible' - interesting!) and the 'beefed-up' end to "Autumn" took my breath away even more than the night before. The set was a perfect balance of shifting mood and pace; there are always more songs that we would love to hear but then we'd be very happy if the really did 'play all night'.
I can't imagine ever getting enough of performances like this and it was a pleasure and honour to be able thank the guys at the end of the show. Thanks again to the Strawbs (and Dick and Nigel). Looking forward to the next thirty years!
This little venue in deepest Lincolnshire was once again buzzing, with the Strawbs playing to another very appreciative full house. This was the second time I had seen the band here this year. I thought the Acoustic Strawbs were superb but this was even better!
Highlights of the night for me were the storming version of "The River/Down By The Sea", and "The Call To Action" off the new album. All the guys were in tremendous form but a special mention must be made of RC with his excellent drum solo. After a well deserved encore DC stated that he would see us all again in 25 years - sorry DC, that's 25 years too long............ Keep up the good work,
MADDERMARKET THEATRE, NORWICH - SATURDAY 31 MAY 2008
I could not believe it I had booked my holiday to Jersey several months ago only to find out a few weeks later the Strawbs were on at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich on the 31/05/08, the day I got back.
I was really disappointed because I thought I would never feel like driving thirty miles to Norwich after the four hour jurney back from Gatwick airport. y wife who loves the Strawbs said when we arrived home in no way is she going and you must be crazy if you decide to go. ll afternoon I kept drifting in and out of should I go or should I not go?, part of me said I could not face a sixty mile round trip, but the other part of me said its Dave and the boys and how could I not go. hen I decided at 6pm my wife is right I am crazy and I decided to go on my own. I got the 'call to action' and left my house at 6.35pm and made it to the theatre with five minuits to go.
When I arrived the place was brimming with people, I started to panic would I get a ticket, was I too late?. When I got to the box office there were crosses all over the stalls, it looked sold out, but to my relief there were a few odd seats left at the side.
I sat down next to a very nice man and got talking about the Strawbs, and he told me the last time he saw the Strawbs was at the Theatre Royal in Norwich back in 1973. I told him him I was there and the memories came flooding back about what a great night it was.
After sitting down for a couple of minutes I felt exhausted and numb with tiredness after only a few hours sleep that morning, having to get up at 5am to catch the plane at 7am for the flight home.
But when the show started with "Lay Down" I suddenly felt awake and I knew then I had made the right decision to come, as it turned out to be a sensational performance.
I never thought the stunning performance at Cropredy last year would ever be matched, but I was wrong. From the start of the show to the encore "Well Meet Again Sometime" this was a demonstration of the most outstanding musicianship I have ever seen from the Strawbs, and I have seen many performances.
This was a barnstorming show with two incredibly brilliant new songs "The Broken Hearted Bride" and The Call To Action". I was so glad to see that "The Call To Action" was made into a Strawbs number. This was the best track on Dave's collaboration with Conny Conrad, High Seas. This track will turn out to be a Strawbs classic. It brings out the best in Dave Cousins voice, it has all the drama and passion we have come to expect. And to be quite honest I was staggered by the way he sang out 'Can you hear the call' several times during the song, it must have taken so much out of him, but it was absolutely brilliant.
All the other songs were delivered with passion and drive and of special mention was "Autumn" and "Heartbreaker" which received prolonged applause to the obvious delight of the band. The band is clearly enjoying playing together and Dave Cousins looked so relaxed and happy.
Being very tired and worn out from my journey it would have been so easy to have stayed at home and watched the final of 'Britain's got talent'. But on the subject of talent in reality Strawbs fans do not need telling 'Britain's got talent' as we had just watched the most talented band this country has ever produced, and I just wish the media would recognised this especially in recent years, because they deserve far greater respect and recognition. Let's hope they get it with the release of The Broken Hearted Bride later in the year.
After the show it was great to hear the feed back from people as they were leaving and it was all positive.
As I got in my car I put on the 'Hummingbird' album and drove home thinking what a great way to finish off my holiday.
Photo by Dick using Ali's camera ! - more pictures from Ali and Dick at the Norwich gig
MEMORIAL HALL, FRESHWATER IOW - SUNDAY 1 JUNE 2008
Didn't bother to say much about the Freshwater gig earlier as superlatives do get boring.
Anyway, I was really surprised to find that, even on a Sunday evening in the far west of a little island off the south coast of Hampshire, the Strawbs could still fill a venue. OK, so it only held just over 200. But still I was mightily impressed. The concert blew me away too.
My mate Paul was also over the moon cos he got to talk to Dave and Geraldine after and persuaded them to go for dinner at his local in Niton. It helped that we took a mate of Paul's called Steve who is the landlord of The Buddle in Niton. Dave made 2 requests - lobster (which Steve had to source rather hurriedly on Monday morning) and no talk about the band, all conversation to be about the IOW. I don't know how they got on. :-)
The return part of my deal with Paul is that I take him to The Brook in Southampton on Thursday.
Out In The Cold/Round And Round
You And I When We Were Young
The Broken Hearted Bride
Burning For Me
The River/ Down By The Sea
Here Today Gone Tomorrow
The Call To Action
Hero and Heroine
We'll Meet Again Sometime
HALF MOON, PUTNEY - WEDNESDAY 4 JUNE 2008
Okay to justify my earlier comment I can safely say that this gig, to misquote the late Billy Wright from Star Soccer "was a gig of two halves".
The first half was awful the second, excellent. How so, well it was nothing to do with the band but all to do with the sound. It started with only Chas & DC opening with the first line of "Lay Down" and DL finally getting miked from line 2. All through the first 4 songs there was the howl of feedback. So bad at one point that even the barman at the back was covering his ears with both hands. Lastly and to be perfectly frank, DL may just have well not been there as his guitar sound was virtually non-existent. Which meant "Autumn" was probably the worst version I've ever heard as the intricate interplay between keys and guitar just didn't happen.
It got to the point that I was so hacked off I was quite willing to walk out and not come back. I wasn't the only one to comment on the sound either!! The guys gamely played on and may not have been aware although even they couldn't ignore the feedback
Thankfully in the half-time lull the problem, DL's guitar pickup [actually the mic infront of his amp, I think - DG], was changed and from the start of "New World" the guys were firing on all cylinders. From then on that's when Dick and I were air guitaring and trying to look around the world's tallest man.
Finally I too had difficulty with the lyrics for the new songs but that probably because I knew all the words to the rest.
All-in-all not the best gig I've been to but it did come right in the end.
A very packed Half Moon on Wednesday night, which meant it was quite warm inside the venue.People were crowding very tightly down at the front, but I have a feeling it was similarly cramped at the back.
Have to say that I have never been hugely happy with the sound quality at the Half Moon, but I think, despite some early gremlins, last night was the best sound I have heard there. Yes, there were some gremlins to begin with. The start of "Lay Down" was marred with the fact that DL's mike was really quiet when they started, and it was suddenly turned up far too loud before settling down to the right level. There were some horrendous squeals of feedback, I think from the keyboards, which did eventually get sorted, but not without a few squeals of pain from the gathered throng.
Many people did think that the balance was a bit wrong. I have to admit, it was unusual. Chas's bass was turned up far louder than normal, and DL's guitar was quite quiet, but I think that the unusual levels sounded really good to me. It was nice to be able to make out every note that Chas played.
Most impressive though was the keyboards. Have never heard such rich sounding depth to the notes. Particularly in "Hero And Heroine". Some of the bass vibrations from keyboard created a wall of sound that felt like it was physically hitting you.
I hadn't noticed Rod's drumsticks at Wavendon, but when they played "The Call To Action" he was using a pair of fluorescent pink sticks. They glowed amazingly in the half light, but needless to say I didn't manage to catch them in a photograph.
I wasn't too convinced at Wavendon about the new songs, but really enjoyed them this time round. Missed "Ghosts" and "Cold Steel" of course, but hopefully they'll still be included in the Acoustic set list next time.
Noticed afterwards that there was a flat screen TV in the bar outside the venue, on which the concert was being broadcast. Don't think they had sound, but it would have been fantastic if someone could have sneaked a DVD recorder in line with the screen. We could have all left with a copy of the concert!
Photo by Alison Brown - more pictures from Ali
THE BROOK, SOUTHAMPTON - THURSDAY 3 JUNE 2008
Whilst queueing outside I happened to ask a member of the Brook staff whether the mezzanine was going to be open. The reply was that it would be. They like to close the mezzanine when they have a band that attracts a young audience as it concentrates them on to the dance floor and encourages them to bop around.
Well, they certainly have the measure of us Strawbs fans.
I suspect that most of us know that some of these concerts are being recorded in order that they can compile a live album which is being given away to the first thousand people who order the Broken Hearted Bride. [News to me - DG!] Don't know whether the Brook was recorded last night, but if it was, there is no need to record any concerts at all in the US. Last night's concert was absolutely perfect, and could not be bettered in any way whatsoever. Absolutely the best of the concerts I have seen this tour.
Think the guys really enjoyed themselves as well. DC was looking very tired at Wavendon and the Half Moon, and I think the problems with the feedback meant that they were quite glad to get off the stage at Putney, but I felt that they were as sad when last night finished as we were. They all looked like they were really enjoying themselves, and I am happy to report that DC was looking as young and fit as ever.
After "Hero", DC changed his closing line of "See you all again in thirty years". Instead, he made a quick mental calculation and divided the normal time by a factor of approximately thirty one million.
The audience were baying for a second encore, and for a brief minute, we all thought that it might happen. The house lights weren't switched on! You could have cut the excitement with a knife. (At least,you could have done if knife carrying was permitted).
PRINCESS PAVILION, FALMOUTH - FRIDAY 6 JUNE 2008
Saw the band in Falmouth on Friday. They were truly awesome. My friend who accompanied me stated it was the best concert he had been to (we are both in our 50's and have seen many bands over the years). We both last saw the Strawbs at a venue in Plymouth (I seem to remember in the Mayflower Street area) sometime in mid to late 70's, A discussion ensued over the year. Is there any possibility of being able to remind us of where and when the concert took place?
We are both eagerly awaiting the release of The Broken Hearted Bride. We were blown away by the two new tracks, especially "The Call to Action".
Saw the Strawbs at Falmouth ,unfortunately not as big an audience as last year but they played with as much passion as before. The two new songs from the new album both sounded excellent ("The Broken Hearted Bride" and "The Call To Action"). Managed to speak to both Daves as well as Chas, as did our 9 year old daughter (Tegan) - all very friendly. I suppose they don't get many 9 year old fans but she does love their music without any arm twisting from me. Hope the low turnout won't put them off from coming down this way again.
HAILSHAM PAVILION, HAILSHAM - SATURDAY 7 JUNE 2008
Not certain what the definition of a village is or that of a town, so can't say for sure quite where Hailsham fits on the spectrum between hamlet and city, but if it's a town it is not a large one. Not large enough you would have thought to run a theatre of any note. Considering that the nearest place of any size is Eastbourne, famed for being the human equivalent to the elephant's graveyard, there didn't seem much chance that many people would turn up to a rock concert. How very wrong I was.
Not only was the theatre sold out, but the audience was one of the most appreciative I've seen. Not only that, but this was just one of the rock events being staged in Hailsham that night! I now know where I want to retire to!
First hint that this was different to your run of the mill concerts was that the queue outside the theatre was being filmed. Once inside, an announcement was made over the tannoy that the concert itself was being filmed, with the hope that it would be made into a DVD for release next year. Apparently the DVD will be part documentary about the recording of the Broken Hearted Bride.
Presumably as a result of the filming, the stage was extremely well lit, which was fantastic for any photographers, but did look very hot for the performers.
The theatre does not have a bar, only a little cafe, so it has a symbiotic relationship with the pub over the road. At half time everyone pours out of the theatre and crosses over for a drink. Whilst there we discovered that the tribute band Deeply Purple were playing in the function room at the back of the pub from nine till midnight! That too was heaving. Hailsham was hosting two major rock shows in one night.
On return for the second half.they'd put a fan on ths stage as the lights were giving out so much heat. Dave Lambert stood in front of it, and his hair blew in the breeze. Dave Cousins joked that the Strawbs had their own personal supermodel..
As to the concert itself...
I had thought that the Southampton performance could not have been improved upon. I was wrong. The boys put in the performance of their lives. A truly stunning show. So pleased that it was recorded.
All I can say is that America is in for a real treat.
Photo by Dick Greener - more pictures from Dick