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ACOUSTIC STRAWBS
UK/ITALY DATES, JAN/FEB 2009


PART 2

Updated: 26 Feb 2009

Part 1 - First leg - 10 January to 5 February

Contents

Pontardawe Arts Centre, Neath, Friday 6 February 2009 (cancelled owing to bad weather)
Little Civic, Wolverhampton, Saturday 7 February 2009
Dal Verme Theatre, Milano, Italy, Thursday 12 February 2009
Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Maidenhead, Sunday 15 February 2009
  • Pictures from Pete Bradley
  • Setlist from Pete Bradley
  • Ovington Social Club, Ovington, Friday 20 February 2009
  • Pictures from Alison Brown
  • The Running Horse, Nottingham, Saturday 21 February 2009
  • Perfect Sound, Perfect Setlist And A Fiery Performance - Review by Ralph Tonge
  • Setlist from Dick Greener
  • The Running Horse, Nottingham, Saturday 21 February 2009 and Riga Music Bar, Westcliff On Sea, Sunday 22 February 2009
  • From Running Horse To Riga - Review by Dick Greener
  • Carry On Up The A1 (And Back) - Review by Lindsay Sorrell
  • Riga Music Bar, Westcliff On Sea, Sunday 22 February 2009
  • Comments from Nigel Bennett
  • Setlist from Dick Greener
  • Sala della Comunita, Vicenza, Italy, Saturday 28 February 2009

    Setlist from Pete Bradley

    Benedictus/Simple Visions
    Tears And Pavan
    New World
    Another Day
    Midnight Sun
    Oh How She Changed
    The Call To Action

    Ghosts
    Josephine (For Better Or For Worse)
    Glimpse of Heaven
    The Hangman And The Papist
    Shine On Silver Sun
    Cold Steel
    Autumn
    Lay Down

    We'll Meet Again Sometime

    NORDEN FARM CENTRE FOR THE ARTS, MAIDENHEAD, SUNDAY 15 FEBRUARY 2009

    EVERY SONG WAS PLAYED TO PERFECTION - Review and pictures by Pete Bradley

    Humbled because Ralph has already managed to get a review of Nottingham written, and I haven't yet managed to scratch out a few words on Norden Farm which was a week ago.

    It was a cold, dark night and we were both feeling pretty tired. Knowing that Monday morning follows hard on the heels of a Sunday night, made the thought of going out seem less palatable. It it had been almost any other band, the lure of the settee might have won, but this, of course, was no other band.

    Sadly, the Norden Farm gig is the only one of this current Acoustic Strawbs tour that we have been able to get to. Had considered Trowbridge, as we have a friend who is not adverse to being dragged to a Strawb concert, who lives down that way, but she had come to visit us that weekend, so we weren't able to make that one.

    Only one note, though, and all memories of tiredness instantly disappeared

    You can't fault the Norden Farm Centre for the Arts when it comes to the stage lighting. Although very simple, it is very effective. A black backdrop, with bright white lights on the band, really brings out the best from the highly polished guitars.

    You can't fault the theatre for the sound, either: perfectly balanced and crystal clear. A sound system well suited to the Strawbs beautiful music.

    Last time the Strawbs played there, though, the theatre staff were on constant patrol, ensuring that there were no cameras around. This year, there were no indications that they were anti-photography, but just to be on the safe side, I smuggled my camera in, and didn't attempt to take a picture until the second half. No staff appeared to mind, but I was sitting in front of a guy who objected. Apparently the site of my camera distracted his enjoyment of the music. Oh well, at least he was enjoying the music.

    The theatre was pretty packed, but there seemed to be a distinct lack of other Witchwooders. Good to know that they can fill the theatre without us.

    I don't think that there were any surprises to the setlist, but every song was played to perfection.








    Photos by Pete Bradley - more larger size photos from Pete


    OVINGTON SOCIAL CLUB, OVINGTON, FRIDAY 20 FEBRUARY 2009

    Pictures from Alison Brown





    Photos by Alison Brown - more photos from Ali


    Setlist from Dick Greener

    Benedictus/Simple Visions
    Tears And Pavan
    New World
    Another Day
    Midnight Sun
    Oh How She Changed
    The Call To Action

    Ghosts
    Josephine (For Better Or For Worse)
    A Glimpse Of Heaven
    The Hangman And The Papist
    Shine On Silver Sun
    Cold Steel
    Autumn
    Lay Down

    We'll Meet Again Sometime

    THE RUNNING HORSE, NOTTINGHAM, SATURDAY 21 FEBRUARY 2009

    PERFECT SOUND, PERFECT SETLIST AND A FIERY PERFORMANCE - Review by Ralph Tonge

    Possibly the best Acoustic Strawbs gig I've ever seen - perfect sound, perfect setlist and a fiery performance from a band still at their peak. Dave Cousins voice was as its best, not one high note missed, the full passion in the delivery of songs like Grave New World undiminished and still put to good use in Call to Action which was particularly mesmeric.

    Dave Lambert is one of those guitarists who can just come up with the goods consistently. His solo in Josephine was particularly jaw-dropping - leaving Dick Greener and I ready to hang up our plectrums.

    Chas was his usual majestic Chasness, providing ever so subtle harmonies and twelve string (the only 12 string which never needs tuning!) and his bass work was spot on.

    The sound was particularly good thanks to Paul who just happened to be there and helped out. It was a great setlist with one or two pleasant surprises for me with Another Day and Josephine not being familiar from previous gigs. The more familiar stuff was as great as ever, and is pretty much essential playing. There are occasions when I think Ghosts and Autumn could do with a rest, but then hearing them last night, it would be a terrible loss!

    It was great catching up with Witchwooders and the atmosphere at the gig was great. Particularly great to catch up with fellow Fool, Dick Greener, and possibly the nicest fan anywhere, Lindsay Sorrell. Nice also to meet some new faces and hopefully one or two new converts...




    Photo by Ralph Tonge


    THE RUNNING HORSE, NOTTINGHAM, SATURDAY 21 FEBRUARY 2009 and
    RIGA MUSIC BAR, WESTCLIFF ON SEA, SUNDAY 22 FEBRUARY 2009

    FROM RUNNING HORSE TO RIGA - Review by Dick Greener

    A Strawbs weekend to close out the UK Jan/Feb tour - 300 mile round trip to Nottingham with Lindsay, then a quick dash over to Southend for the reinstated Riga show. Same setlist for each but the shows seemed quite different.

    The Running Horse is a music venue on Alfreton Road in Nottingham - not the poshest area of the town, and at first didn't look too promising: a short queue outside, interrupted by a very drunk woman with silver teeth, prompted us to cross the Alfreton Road, taking our life in our hands to reach the pub opposite. Nice beers, good music on the stereo (Del Amitri when we came in), so no surprise that we were soon joined by the band having finished their sound check over the road.

    Doors opened whilst were in there and when we got there the place was pretty full, standing room only. So we visited the bar - down some stairs in a back area, well away from the playing area (top marks!) and took up a position to the right of the smallish stage, which was set out of the Acoustics. (There was a support act, which turned out to be a 4 piece young band with lots of (rather good) amps and a drum kit and deal had been struck that the Acoustics would go on first and the other band, Euler, would follow.)

    From the off - a crystal clear "Benedictus" followed by a sparkling "Simple Visions" - this felt like a cracking show - the sound was being handled by Paul Smith, who regularly does the electric tours and various other gigs for the band, so the sound was pretty perfect - even standing next to one of the PA speakers, it wasn't too loud and the subtlety of some of the quieter numbers wasn't lost.

    Absolute highlight for me of the show (and this tour) has to be the superb version of "Josephine". The two solos Dave Lambert plays are just absolutely perfect, especially the little runs up the fretboard. It seems to have a sixties flavour to it - which can only result from DL's playing, as he uses no stomp boxes or effects, just pure musical craftsmanship. Absolutely gorgeous treatment of a lovely song. "Another Day" was fantastic too - having the middle eight much bouncier than originally recorded has grown on me a lot and the mix of the two voices was perfect. In fact the vocals generally were superb - the huge chorus numbers such as "Glimpse Of Heaven", "Autumn", "Lay Down", "Shine On Silver Sun" and the closing "We'll Meet Again Sometime" as well as and the duets between the two Daves ("Hangman", "Another Day") - just right!!

    The youngsters on after our heroes, Euler, were certainly pretty competent, with a good lead singer who looked a bit like one of the Gallagher brothers, with plenty of lead singer attitude. Considerably louder, we watched part of their set from the music area, and listened to part of it from the bar. Not bad, though a very different musical genre from what had gone before - unfortunately for them this attested to by audience attrition, as most of the Strawbs fans had legged it for home before they started. Euler was an 18th century mathematician renowned for mathematical discoveries. We bought the CD which was on sale for 3 (no complex maths there). The band has a MySpace site at: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=56228133.

    We brought along my friend Derick, who we were staying with just outside of the city - a newbie to the Strawbs he enjoyed the show very much - thanks for the hospitality and great company Derick. Great as well to chat to fellow Fool Ralph - the Fools have not been inactive of late, we're gearing up to another rehearsal and the e-mail has been pretty busy over the last few days.

    Home again by about 2.00pm, just time to get things sorted, add Ralph's Nottingham review to Strawbsweb, kiss wife who turned up at about 5.00pm then off again to Southend. The car knows the way to the Riga by now, an old familiar friend. Both Alison and Pete Rand were travelling down from the North, and Nigel was over, as well as the native Southenders, so it was a bit of Witchwooder get-together, with some great chat in the next door pub beforehand; Then some of us headed for a late night curry afterwards (no food in the pub and we were starving by then).

    Dave Kittredge did a great job of putting the show on, thanks Dave. The ambience was very different indeed, with a real full on rock mix, handled by Clive Cowan who had opened as a solo artist for the Acoustics when they played the Riga before. The mix really emphasised the rockier numbers, with Dave Lambert's power chords and lead breaks very prominent, as were Chas's bass pedals. "New World", "The Call To Action" (which was exceptionally good), "Ghosts" and "Glimpse Of Heaven" had real power and authority, and I found myself wondering whether "Acoustic" Strawbs was the right appellation for the band that night - such was the sound coming off the stage.

    So - end of tour (for us at least - there's a quick trip to Italy at the weekend). Canada over to you - we expect full reports of the first outing of the new electric line-up - careful planning for transport of people and equipment so that Oliver joins the tour straight after the Yes tour has all gone to hell on a handcart with the cancellation of the Yes tour, so if Oliver steps on stage with an accordian, and Chas "Mr Logistics" has had a nervous berakdown, you'll understand why .....








    Photos by Dick Greener - more photos from Dick


    CARRY ON UP THE A1 (AND BACK) - Review by Lindsay Sorrell

    Two more superb acoustic Strawbs gigs in Nottingham and Southend, both in rock-style venues rather than more sedately seated acoustic arts centre type places, and no less enjoyable for that. Discovering the differing ambiences of venues is part of the fun, and I found it quite amazing how much the sound differed between the Running Horse and the Riga. I thought Dave Lambert in particular must have overnight altered the way he played various songs, but Lord Greener assured me it was the very different sound set-ups that had varied the prominence of instruments so dramatically. All I know is that I enjoyed both nights immensely - no surprises in the setlists but it was sheer delight to watch the band on top form two nights running.

    Thanks to Dick for inviting me to Nottingham in his trusty Peugeot, and it was lovely to meet his friend Derick, whose hospitality and cheeseboard knew no bounds as he redistributed his wealth of fancy cheeses. Sorry about the olives. Thankfully Derick seems keen to see Strawbs again, having gallantly survived several hours of listening to Dick, me and then Ralph filling him in on the band's forty year history. Don't think we left any gaps. (Not only is Ralph very generous with his compliments by the way, he is also extremely talented. Dick played me several Fools' tracks on the journey up to Nottingham which confirmed the abundance of skilled musicianship amongst the Foolish ranks.) Great to see Julie again once we were inside The Running Horse, and Robert with son James - always delightful to be with others who are bubbling with enthusiasm to see the band, as they all are. Didn't notice any sherrifs, but it was lovely to see Daniel from North London again - ok that was actually at The Red Lion several weeks ago but I forgot to mention him in my review. Sorry Dan!

    I'd rather not mention the journey back to Southend but after several texts and voicemail messages Ali and Pete R. ended up waiting in my living room while I checked my daughter's Blood Brothers GCSE coursework (rock and roll!) then it was off to The Riga. I took the heritage route and pointed out all Southend seafront's sites of historic interest, such as the kiosk where I used to sell inflatable dolphins and kiss-me-quick hats during school holidays. Eventually I found a parking space I could cope with (i.e. 4 empty bays in a row) and it was into The Cricketers (local knowledge - The Riga used to be part of the pub) where we met Dick and were soon joined by Carole and Nigel. Another great gathering, very kind of Dave K. to reserve our table and seats, and it was time for the off after Nigel had taken various photos which I believe he is now touting round the tabloids.

    As I mentioned before - the gig had an interesting sound balance which made several songs sound quite different from the previous night. A very friendly local singer/songwriter called Clive Cowan (who once supported Strawbs at the Riga, which delighted him, being a long-term fan) was in charge of the sound and he made a great job of it I thought. There was some effective lighting too - particularly in "Hangman", when Dave Lambert was shrouded in an eerie blue light while playing the "tolling bell" sounds. One of my son's 17-year old friends was at the gig, and he gasped in awe and told me he hadn't realised "music as good as this" existed. Dave Cousins told a few "off the wall" tales and for the odd moment I thought I'd gone to see Roy Hill (who was playing in Uxbridge on the very same night - drat!) instead. We also thought the band were going to break into "Back in the Old Routine" at one point as Susan George featured heavily. Another excellent night, topped off by heeding the call to a very accommodating Indian restaurant.


    Setlist from Dick Greener

    Benedictus/Simple Visions
    Tears And Pavan
    New World
    Another Day
    Midnight Sun
    Oh How She Changed
    The Call To Action

    Ghosts
    Josephine (For Better Or For Worse)
    A Glimpse Of Heaven
    The Hangman And The Papist
    Shine On Silver Sun
    Cold Steel
    Autumn
    Lay Down

    We'll Meet Again Sometime

    RIGA MUSIC BAR, WESTCLIFF ON SEA, SUNDAY 22 FEBRUARY 2009

    Comments from Nigel Bennett

    Just in from Sarfend ..great show it was too, brilliant with a terrific PA which definitely gave full value to the musicianship of the band. Got one or two interesting "shots" which once I've vetted, might stick on the Witchwood web ! Unfortunately I wasn't quick enough to capture the naked legs !! Whose, will forever remain a mystery until I see them again. Got one of the shoes without the legs in them.

    Missed the end of tour post gig frivolity with Messrs Greener, Sorrell, Rand and Brown as I'd promised to take another tour regular home straight after the show as they had an early start in the morning and I had a long drive ahead.

    Thanks to Lindsay for asking and to Dave Kitteridge for obeying "orders" who reserved a table right at the front for out little gathering, as well as putting on the show.

    Great finish to the Jan /Feb UK Acoustic jaunt ... Oh Canada, Canada, you got them next in full blown electric format...that is if you can possibly overlook the quick trip to Italy next weekend.

    PS Ralph ..Sssshhh.... Once upon a time, I saw Chas have a twiddle with his twelve string ....but only ever once mind you, unique and a very fleeting glimpse it was as well, virtually as rare as a snowflake in June and for that, the moment is somewhat special and treasured.






    Photos by Alison Brown - more photos from Ali


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