main page tour dates live reviews and photos news downloads buy albums 45s video books lyrics gallery features history and timeline memorabilia related bands and artists sessions/covers links help using Strawbsweb search site tell a friend book Strawbs get Strawbswebnews join Witchwood change your e-mail Facebook etc

Updated: 20 Aug 2012

Folk On The Pier Festival, Cromer, 13 May 2012
  • Zeus Win The Crowd Over Again - Review by Lindsay Sorrell
  • Rock Against Cancer Festival, Kings Arms, All Cannings, 26 May 2012
  • Great entertainment in the Wiltshire countryside - Review by Nigel Bennett



    Photo by Nigel Bennett

    In an all too infrequent glorious UK weather weekend, patronage was split on the UK side of the Witchwood fence. Due to booking this event ahead of the announcement of the "Concert at The Kings- Rock against Cancer" Ali and Lindsay tripped to the Acoustic festival of great Britain and engaged with other Strawbs fans attending that. Meanwhile Dick and me, had a "day trip" to the Wiltshire countryside in a field in the middle of nowhere..well it was somewhere , otherwise we wouldn't have been there.

    Firstly I had to direct Dick to his hotel, his sat nav... those blessed things ! was taking him miles and miles away from where he needed to be headed. Once he got back on the old straight track...he said "it was a long way back " I gave him a quick lesson on the history of the building next to where he was staying. A place where I grew up watching my music..Devizes Corn Exchange..where Rick had performed his second ever gig with "Yes".

    A quick 5 or 6 mile trip out of town, we went across humped back bridges over the Kennet and Avon canal a few times, we arrived in amongst the Wiltshire downs in good time for the concert to start. A quick bite to eat and a quick glug and we were in place in timely fashion for the first act up.

    The Dave Kelly Blues band, performing "Tobacco Road," brought back thoughts of another Strawb - John Hawken as Dick and I mouthed together "Nashville Teens". There is another link that needs to be put down before it is forgotten to history. When at school we always had an end of year concert (early Strawbs lineups played at some) well that was until Jo Anne Kelly arrived (Dave Kelly's sister) and played a stomping good set, that had everyone dancing on the tables which went down well on the night (it was a bit raucous) but not quite so well with the authorities who banned future events.

    After that we had the sad news that The Wurzels wouldn't be playing due to a family illness as that was have been my cue to head for the beer tent (beer tent - that's another story). Musically I didn't miss them but out of the sad news came a little good as it mean't every other act was to have a little extra time - yippee!

    Next up were Acoustic Strawbs who we had met before the show as Dick had to deliver something "special " to DC. We had to have an "escort" to get there.... which rather amused the young lady designed to take us, but I'd prefer it to be known as "protection" given the valuable cargo we were carrying {wink} although she seemed to revel in the term "escort".

    So Strawbs got a nice long set..delighting many with their "this is the first track of the album show". Unusually DC broke a string quipping "aren't you lucky it is my E string and not my G string, otherwise I would really be in trouble" then proceeding a charity auction with the crowd saying it's got to be worth at least 20p - think the bidding got to a fiver before they proceeded to the next song.

    Next up were Sweet. Now by then, somehow Wendy the flying pig and Ian had found us and we got into conversation resulting in a hopeful trip to the bar - the one flaw of the afternoon as the queues were massive, and selling out quickly. Fortunately the managing director of the brewery supplying the event was attending and he got the brewery, which was just 5 miles away, to open up specially and deliver sufficient supplies for the rest of the day.

    So I watched Sweet from the rear of the field, but they were good and somehow felt I had missed out but managed to catch the end of their set from a bit closer which in part made up for all the previous queuing, but I wished I had got there earlier.

    Whispering Bob Harris came on and said a few words to link things together before a couple of acts.

    Next up for about 3 hours were to be the SAS band alongside various guests that each got the crowd going in their own way as they performed 3/4 of their own of suitable arrangements of others. So here is a very brief summary, because I can't remember everything:

    Firstly SAS played a couple of Queen numbers just to ramp up the atmosphere.

    Then onto stage with them was Chris Thompson of the Manfred Mann etc.... "Blinded By The Light"...still rolling around in my head now...

    Followed by Patti Russo... a real highlight, what a voice and energetic performance, a really good surprise.

    Next..this is now getting a bit squiffy in terms of running order but think Chris Thompson may have come back.

    Then Madeleine (wow!) Bell.......... Looking at her and her performance and enthusiasm you would think she was nearer 17 than 70..another real highlight, both she and Patti really got the crowd going.

    Next was Tom Robinson, really thought "War Baby" was excellent but Dick disagreed liking the counting song, "painting by numbers" 2,4,6,8, or something, but maybe he was just hoping that was the number of lagers he could have, if only he had been able to get to the bar.

    Then there came Midge Ure ..... for my thinking the real highlight of the day (outside of Strawbs of course) "Vienna" given the setting sun, in what had been a totally cloudless sky all day was real atmospheric moment, as a quarter moon rose slowly in the sky. He also did," Dancing With Tears In My Eyes" and a wonderful "Boys Are Back In Town" famed by Thin Lizzy for whom he also played briefly.

    I think what came next was the Fabba Girls..must admit I could have done without their two Abba songs, great vocalists though that they are ..but that's just me I'm sure others enjoyed them.

    We then got the the 27 the history of Rock and Roll in 27 riffs, by the SAS band led by Jamie Moses?? who had compered all the evening evening introductions.. and the SAS band itself.

    Then came Mike and the Mechanics and we got " Living Years" and "Over My Shoulder" amongst their set which more than met crowd expectation with the party atmosphere moving along nicely towards the finale.

    Brian May and Kerry Ellis, toned things down with 2/3 quiet acoustic numbers before launching into some searing ending material, including more " rampant" Queen and ended up with all artists back on the stage and extending the curfew by about half an hour as they all sang "With A Little Help From Our Friends." which brought the day to a close.

    Great entertainment in the Wiltshire countryside for the 4000 in attendance and the prime objective was fund raising for the chosen Cancer charities, so hopefully the organisers " Grubby" and Richard Baulu will have reached their targets. I am sure that they would be delighted to hear from any further contributors with donations and with plenty of stuff likely to be up on YouTube before too long, you could almost imagine you were there. Their website is at , but don't forget the event has now taken place and you can't buy tickets (or can you ?) ....

    Who knows you can try, every penny counts !! There is even a whisper it may take place next year !

    Photo by Nigel Bennett


    ZEUS WIN THE CROWD OVER AGAIN - Review by Lindsay Sorrell

    Just a few words about Cromer "Folk on the Pier" festival:

    "It was absolutely brilliant!"

    Ok, here's a few more:

    The festival had a terrific atmosphere, all very warm and friendly, and I saw some stunningly good acts I had never heard of before plus Richard Digance whom I have seen before several times, and was as funny/poignant as ever.

    Home Service were excellent as the main evening act (as expected, having won the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for the "Best Live Act" earlier this year). Among countless other things John Tams and Graeme Taylor of Home Service were both responsible for the music in War Horse (which I saw onstage a couple of months back and thought lived up to the hype as it was so atmospheric).

    Deep breath - Graeme and another member of Home Service, Jon Davie, also played alongside Dave Lambert and Tom Leary as Zeus, the main afternoon act at Cromer (incidentally, Tom also plays with Ian Cutler in Feast of Fiddles - confused? you should be by now).

    Many Strawbs fans saw Zeus make their debut in September 2009 at Strawbs' 40th Anniversary and I'm happy to say that this performance was just as much of a success, culminating in two calls for encores from the delighted packed out theatre. We even got to hear a reworked version of "Fathere's Name is Dad" in there too, but I'll leave the setlist to Ali which I believe she begged from Neil. Great sound by Paul too. The latest info I have is that the members of Zeus are all hoping to be able to arrange some dates later in the year, and also get a CD of their music out before too much longer.

    Digressing regarding sound - John Tams mentioned the Home Service sound guy (Dougie Beveridge) whom I remembered long-sufferingly used to allow my friend Christine and me to sit at the mixing desk with him as he often did the sound for Hudson Ford in the 70s, sometimes with Dickie Bell. I can't say I would have recognised Dougie (long red hair and beard in the 70s, short white hair and beard now) and I'm quite sure he didn't recognise me as last time I saw him I was still at school and may have had my hair in bunches. Anyway, I couldn't resist saying hello and we had a lovely few minutes reminiscing.

    After the show it was back to the hotel for the after-festival party where it was lovely to meet a lot of the performers. It turned into an exceptionally cool night, but that had more to do with biting north Norfolk winds than trendy revellers!

    Please enable Javascript to view Strawbsweb

    . Click on my name to e-mail me.