Updated: 25 Feb 2016
Turn Me Round
The Promised Land
So Close And Yet So Far Away
The River/Down By The Sea
Hero And Heroine
Out In The Cold/Round And Round
Lay A Little Light On Me/Round And Round reprise
Just what we need - another Dave joining the Strawbs crew. (I am reminded of the Monty Python Australian sketch, where those who are not named Bruce are referred to as Bruce, just to avoid confusion!) But new keyboard player Dave Bainbridge (or possibly Bruce), as evidenced by Sunday night's warm-up gig at the Royal Oak in Hampton, attended by the locals, and a number of invited guests (limited owing to space limitations, it's not a huge pub), is certainly going to prove to be exactly what the Strawbs need for their upcoming dates on board the Moody Blues Cruise, in the UK and in the US.
Getting there after dire traffic problems, I was fortunate that other invitees had saved me a seat. Like the celebrated Roy Hill monologue, there were Strawbs fans on one side of the room, and sheep (sorry, locals) on the other. Chas played an opening set on bass, with open mic night organiser Tony on drums, supporting Martin Taylor, an innovative guitarist, who played a great mix of covers and originals, with fast acoustic guitar work, which belted out a big sound. Like to hear more of him.
Strawbs arrived on the very cramped stage - DB at back left, Tony F back right, and the three core members at the front. In such a small venue, Tony's drums were always going to be loud (we didn't get to hear his chill-out number, "Midnight Sun" on this occasion, where he operates a tasteful shaker, but we will on the full tour), and to tell the truth the sound wasn't always exceptional.. DB's keyboards were sometimes a bit lost, but what we could hear was impressive - he had apparently been listening to the old albums the songs came from, and worked hard to replicate the sounds used by the original players, with very pleasing results. There were new interpretations as well - some nice weirdy noises during "Round And Round", a blistering contribution to "Hero And Heroine" (my favourite song of the night!) and a really nice piano piece to segue into "Lay A Little Light On Me".
The set was the set which will be played on the cruise, 1 hour 15 minutes' worth - a selection of rock-oriented numbers, followed by a selection from Hero And Heroine, with "Lay Down" to follow as an encore. The main tours in UK and US will have the whole of that album as the second half.
Cousins was in fine form vocally, as was Lambert. I couldn't really see Lambert from where I was - a big speaker obscured his head - but his electric guitar playing was superb. Chas, as ever, laid down a superbly melodic bass line, and Fernandez, as ever, enjoyed every single second of his playing, even when he momentarily fluffed something and was seen mouthing sorry to Lambert, who was making windmill gestures.
An opportunity to hear the new line-up was very welcome and what we saw promises extremely well indeed for the full tours, both here and in the US. I'll definitely be getting along to as many shows as I can in the UK, and hope to be at some in the US as well.
Highlights for me:
Picture by Paul Brazier - more pictures from Paul