Updated: 11 Dec 2010
Thu 18 Nov, The Beaverwood, Chislehurst
Sat 20 Nov, Astor Theatre, Deal
Sun 21 Nov, Mr Kyps, Poole
Mon 22 Nov, Bierkeller, Bristol
Thu 25 Nov, Boom Boom, Sutton
Sat 27 Nov, Borderline, London
Sun 28 Nov, The Globe, Cardiff
One of the treats on this tour was to revel in the energetic drumming style of Tony Fernandez - check out this gallery of "Fernandez Faces" from Dick Greener.
THE GLOBE, CARDIFF, SUN 28 NOV 2010
Yes, I have been to a many a Strawbs show over the years, a few may feel my views are therefore a bit jaundiced, but this latest tour has been definitely up there with the very best. Endorsed by a cracking finale at Cardiff.
It is fair to say that of those that do multiple gigs, The Globe at Cardiff was by far the highlight of the previous tour, so with great expectation, I was very much looking forward to this years finale. It didn't disappoint, the place and crowd oozed enthusiasm for Strawbs, which Strawbs repaid and then delivered in the best way possible. Moment by moment the audience were captivated by the set list, the songs and the playing.
The tour set list was split into two, which meant inclusion of "So Close" and "Flower And The Young Man" - songs that had not had an airing in the previous show. "Down By The Sea" was a real highlight, but to single that out does little justice to the rest of the songs in each set, which were sensational in delivery, content and of course the desire of the band to deliver.
That said, for of the ten shows I attended,maybe Cardiff didn't quite this time hit the number one spot, as Liverpool, with the addition of it's spectacular light show probably took top billing on all round assessment.
So, from the UK tour's new boy John Young, through to original member Dave C, everyone made this tour as enjoyable as any that had gone before. This was a Strawbs outfit at their very rocking best. Of course we have not forgotten previous recent "tourers" John, Rod and Oliver but this years "new boys" John Y and Tony were of course, so responsible with their playing for the enjoyment everyone had along the way from Bilston to Cardiff and the 12 dates in between.
So to Dave C, Dave L, Chas, Tony and John, a huge thanks, this has been a tour to remember, you were fantastic. And to those I met along the way, great to see you all, my touring friends are especially included.
BORDERLINE, LONDON, SAT 27 NOV 2010
Such has been the recent workload that I hadn't been able to get to any of the Electric's gigs this November - and like Pete B I had such a stinking cold that my Borderline club (London), ticket hovered briefly over the bin at 6pm on Saturday night. But on went x many fleece levels and in went many a paracetamol.
The boys didn't let me down of course and they shone an awful lot of light onto the UK's current unexpected cold snap and a dimly, if moodily lit cavern like venue. For an hour and a half my cold was blown away by a high tempo, take no prisoners, Electric performance. As Nigel B has mentioned before there are so many moments to savour in this current set but I remember being incredibly impressed early doors into the "Hero And Heroine" section by a tremendous note perfect,complete album recreation of the deliciously subtle lead guitar work from Dave Lambert on "Sad Young Man".
Earlier there had been a monumental "Down By The Sea" with some wonderful new over-arching keyboard work from John Young in the closing 'crashing seas' sequence - I didn't think this could be much improved, how wrong can you be. But the highlight for me had to be the closing "Lay A Little Light On Me" with a spellbinding performance from DC - a master lesson in emotive, passionate singing and the powerful message of religous confusion and indoctrination shook through your soul and your bones - I can well imagine why Lyndsey and anyone else who has had a bewildering faith upbringing would be unnervingly moved by this tour de force. At times in the set I perhaps thought that Tony F on the drums was too far up in the mix and DC vocals too low, but this doesn't detract from Mr.Fernandez's performance which was close on demonic at times.
As soon as they left the stage to stunning applause, their dilithium power disappeared from my body and the cold (within and without) returned with a vengeance and as I type this I am barely alive..........but for a brief time I was supercharged by an inspirational band of brothers and their wonderful songs. DC and the Strawbs first shone their light on me in my impressionable teens and I am so grateful that they have continued to shine so brightly in all my adult years since.
Another new venue for me although the acoustic lineup had played there not so long ago. As I got close to Baker Street station , I came upon around 500 Santa's, or was it elves, all dressed in similar regalia. 500 was only an estimate as I didn't have time to count individually and I'm not sure it was the real Santa's though, as not one gave me a present. Perhaps they were all getting a convention or pep talk ahead of one of the busiest nights of the year, but then again perhaps it was going to be a night on the town down in London's West End. The mystery remains unsolved.
Met up with Dick and Ali after finally finding the pub (hidden by scaffolding) close to the venue, Borderline was a basement rock club just round the corner. A good Witchwood gathering was there, the aforementioned (I was, afterall in the company of a lawyer) and Lindsay, Steve Pritchards and Paul, Neil Lamb who has already posted - hope his cold is better.
Lindsay made several pre gig comments ...which rather took me aback, "very nice but it would be better if they were off" followed swiftly by "this would be very nice in the dark". I'll leave the rest to your imagination. I can only guess at what she was talking about.
As well as those of the Witchwood contingent , there were clearly a large number of fans around, judging by the the numbers of those singing along and special mention of Dave Kitteridge from the Riga in Southend who has booked the Acoustics a few times but had ventured over for the Electric experience.
Enjoyed this venue very much and the place was pretty full with a good atmosphere by the time the band hit the stage. The one sad thing about tonight was that this was the penultimate gig of the tour which has really hit the groove and up there with the highlights from many a previous tour.
Just two more tracks to comment on "Lay A Little Light On Me" and the encore "Lay Down".
DC brings to the finale of the set an expressive feel as the the track builds nicely and then nicely into the chorus of "Shine On Silver Sun" with lovely vocal harmonies provided here by DL, Chas and John Young which worked spot on perfectly. If any one thinks the the track is winding down its back into the "Round And Round" reprise that generates power and energy leaving everyone feeling high and exhilarated at yet another superb performance.
The taped ending of the album is played as the track ends as the band take their bows and continues until they return to the stage for the encore of "Lay Down". Bringing the tracks together in this way has worked really well.
So what of "Lay Down", very much a long standing servant in the set, but on this tour I have enjoyed it as much as I have on many a recent tour. I can't put my finger on why, perhaps it is because of what went before, maybe it's because this year it sounds fresh and just like you remember it to be, when you first heard it, but it brought to an end another great evening of Strawbs music.
All that was left was a late night dash back to ready for Cardiff the next day and a gaze at Regent Street Christmas lights, whose street, filled with Christmas shoppers earlier that evening, were now full of "Clubbers" of differing types.
Before I close a mention of the Stuart Masters trio who did an interesting set, ahead of the band - enjoyed much of that.
As a postscript, my reading glasses fell out of my car in Prince Albert Road, so if someone can organise a search party and send them back - grey case, name and return address inside, I would be most grateful and I could then see, if all this made any sense.
BOOM BOOM, SUTTON, THU 25 NOV 2010
A single sun shaft slid through the pink tinged clouds, threatening snow, as I left home for the trip up to Sutton for this gig. Even mid afternoon the temperature was well below zero, but with dry roads there was no problem travelling, but it did take me half an hour to warm up in the pub ahead of the show.
The Boom Boom was a nice surprise on the last tour where the packed audience created a great atmosphere. Not much different tonight, where the songs were greeted with great enthusiasm. The one downside of the Boom Boom is that the "Gent's" door entrance is almost adjadcent to the stage which mean't a steady trickle of audience members, needing to seek that particular comfort. Mentioning this seems a bit like nit picking because once again this was a great night.
The low ceiling almost restricted DC's hand movements in those expressive moments of songs where he has no guitar in hand. In sympathy with the rest of the tour the sound was loud and in your face - full blown Strawbs enjoying the ball. A rather prophetic sticker adorned one of the speakers (see Yahoo photos Poole and Bristol).
From show to show you draw many highlights, tonight that accolade would go to "New World", "The Promised Land","Ghosts", "The River/Down By The Sea", "Autumn", "Sad Young Man", "Just Love", "Shine On Silver Sun", "Hero And Heroine", "Midnight Sun", "Out In The Cold/Round And Round", "Lay A Little Light On Me"/"Hero's Theme", "Round And Round [reprise]". Oh and I have forgotten "Turn Me Round" and "Lay Down", just realized that's the lot, ah well, count it as the set list.
As features in this review "Out In The Cold/Round And Round" were brilliant again, drawing yet another great audience reaction, with great interplay and that final emphatic powerful scream.
Sean Taylor provided the support tonight and was also very much appreciated by the audience: as a warm up act he certainly did his job, drawing an encore as there was time to spare ahead of the Strawbs appearance.
All in all a great night, the downside being, there are just two more gigs to follow this one before the tour closes. Borderline and Cardiff.... snow permitting !
Well having waited 34 years between gigs (I saw the guys last in 1976 at Newcastle City Hall with Racing Cars then Bradford Poly) I have to say they were absolutely brilliant. A great shame the light show was non-existent as it always helps but the accuracy of the music was superb. I would have liked to see a real Mellotron but then I don't gig with one either!
Sound was good too – not ear-splitting as some have described - a bit fuzzy on vocals at the start and a little loud at the end. My better half hadn't seen Strawbs since before 1974 and she was blown away. Totally enjoyable and an absolute steal at £12 (seeing as my Genesis tribute Los Endos charges £16!).
I took my compact so the results are not great (but the lights didn't help either!):
Photo by Dick Greener - more photos from Dick
Photo by Dick Greener - a gallery of Fernandez faces from Dick
BIERKELLER, BRISTOL, MON 22 NOV 2010
Ah the second of two consecutive gigs less than an hour from home, much closer and it will be in my front room. Bristol is a city, like no other, that is why it is called Bristol, but like most, change is always happening, leaving old traditional convenient car parks, covered by new crazy paving and other car parks charging at least £5 for 4 hours evening parking. Hardly,enough time to grab a leisurely bite and take in a gig ... So back to my old faithful, not the closest, but on a crisp, dry winters evening , more than adequate.
The Bierkeller is well known for its parties, but not so well known recently, as a concert venue. In fact I have only seen one other show there and it gives the feel that much of the inside has not changed much since the sixties or seventies with seats linked to tables many at right angles to the stage. All that may sound a little bit discourteous to the venue, which had a really good sound system once again allowing Strawbs to demonstrate their power and accomplished musicianship before a very enthusiastic following who gave some great ovations.
Everywhere you see it played, "Hero And Heroine" gets a great reaction, through its sheer power and beat, but how appropriate it is, that it is that song, which is due to be one of my featured two tonight. If I have ever heard a more powerful version I doubt and the crowd erupted in sheer delight at its delivery.
"Midnight Sun", slows the tempo down and this seems to getting closer and closer to the fantastic Acoustic version that we see, as the tour progresses.. that may of course just be my imagination but, following the "Hero And Heroine" epic, the mood it generates is so very different.
A full standing ovation greeted the close of the show and the re-appearance for "Lay Down" was rapturous. A great show and a welcome return to Bristol for the full electric band.
A few pictures have been added to the Poole/Bristol photo album on yahoo groups. One of the band on stage, one of the historical SS Great Britain at night for historical interest (not that you can see much).
PS It was lovely to see long time Strawbs friend and fan Sue Wedlock at the show, I know we were all shocked to hear of husband Fred's passing earlier this year.
MR KYPS, POOLE, SUN 21 NOV
A chilly night in Parkstone to be a little more precise.
I caught the sunset over Poole Harbour (see Yahoo group photos - "Poole and Bristol"), before heading off to The Bermuda Triangle for a little liquid refreshment (and a warm) in this handy little pub literally yards from the gig.
During that time Ali gave me a call to check on the food available at that particular pub, but I had to give her the alarming news that all food had mysteriously disappeared, none in sight and nothing advertised, so she with husband John tried a little bit of China instead in the fairly local restaurant - good reports were had of that establishment afterwards.
Mr Kyps is a venue I visit from time to time even when Strawbs are not playing and after a bit of a disaster a couple of years ago when part of the ceiling fell in, it has been tastefully turned into one of the nicest standing venues in the south of England, with great sound and large stage.
The support was singer songwriter Bob Fletcher, who engaged the audience in a singalong in his last number, both on the stage and walking amongst everyone standing and watching - now what was the chorus consisted of the words Tom Jones, Rolling Stones, Beatles, Undertones, I think. Here is a you tube link if you want to check him out.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJrHDl_qlP0 - he did that one too.
The only downside of Mr Kyps is a bar at the back, which does mean people gather there and there is a bit of noise for acoustic performers, but despite that, it is the sort of venue you would carry around if you want to hear Strawbs in their electric format and it became clear that the audience were really up for this and turned it into a real night to remember, no bar noise during Strawbs set!
In the scheme of things, I was supposed to be really concentrating on "Just Love" and "Shine On Silver Sun" to include in this review, but in truth I was so enjoying the evening so much, they came and went without the merest of special notes about the delivery. I do remember, "Just Love" really rocked as always and I do really enjoy "Shine On Silver Sun" in this format and the slightly heavier feel compared to the Acoustics version, certainly went down well with those in the building.
A great night, a big scrum at the merchandise desk where I snuck in under many a larger individual to grab a copy of John Young's "Significance" - a bargain at just £5. Enjoyed listening to that on the way home very much indeed.
This was one of those very special nights on the tour, with heavy bass lines tickling the toes and rumbling through the floorboards and the band playing powerfully and great audience reaction. Mr Kyps did us all proud and had just time to say goodbye to a few friends, I have yet to mention, that were also off to Bristol the next night, as well.
Photo by Graham Quick - more photos from Graham
ASTOR COMMUNITY THEATRE, DEAL, SAT 20 NOV 2010
Review and photo published in Kent On Saturday
Probably still most widely remembered for "Part Of The Union", their novelty charttopper of the early seventies, the Strawbs nonetheless recently broached the fifth decade of a career that has seen them evolve from acoustic trio to pioneering folk and prog rock doyens and all the way back to their roots once more.
For tonight's show, however, at a freshly renovated arts centre in frontman Dave Cousins' seaside home base of Deal, we have one of the periodic reconvergences of the five piece electric line-up to relish and while Cousins' own natty pairing of a longline Jacquard topcoat with a luminous floral shirt itself deftly mirrors the wildly eclectic nature of his extensive back catalogue, then the set list also dexterously mixes and matches the more established classics with several lesser known gems from the repertoire.
"New World" for instance, a searing condemnation of kneejerk sectarian violence which remains as devastatingly poignant and relevant today as it did nearly forty years ago, is followed by the perfectly pitched three part harmonies of "The Flower And The Young Man" from the same album, while the "Ghosts" suite is itself prefaced by "The Promised Land", a far too long neglected dissection of corrupted hope which showcases another powerful vocal delivery from Cousins.
After a further welcome brace of regular favourites, with the delicately tremulous "The River" seamlessly segueing into the pounding power chords of "Down By The Sea" and a short break in which to allegedly set their pacemakers, the band then returns to play their 1973 "Hero and Heroine" album in its entirety.
It's a benchmark album in many ways - not least for the fact that it was here that the Strawbs definitively jettisoned the "folk" hyphenate altogether to become a full blown prog rock unit. Composition-wise, though, it is also quite evidently one of Cousins' most personal statements, with the mood gradually darkening from its evocative opener "Autumn" through the stampeding rhythms of the allegorical title track and the cynical "Round And Round" to the long dark night of the soul that forms the closing track, "Lay A Little Light On Me".
Needless to say, they did it more than full justice with Dave Lambert, as ever, the self effacing bedrock of the line-up on lead guitar and a powerhouse contribution on drums from Tony Fernandez, himself newly returned to the fold after a thirty year absence. If Cousins unaccountably remains one of Britain's most criminally underrated songwriters, therefore, then - on this showing at least - the Strawbs can still more than hold their own against some of the hottest new young bands in town, let alone their actual contemporaries.
Photo by David Parker