Updated: 4 Jun 2016
Holy mother of prog! While I was super-stoked for last night's Strawbs (Electric) show at the esteemed Iron Horse Music Hall (while, as ever, dreading that long six-mile trek westward home to Chez Rick), I an still on a high from their performance, the strains of "Autumn" running through my head all morning long. Having seen the electric band twice (Nearfest, Regent in Arlington) and the acoustic trio several times, I was already anticipating a great night of music, including their masterpiece Hero And Heroine to be played in its entirety. What I was not prepared for was this band's energy in their performance before an enthralled and enraptured (and large!) crowd. A review of the band's NYC gig at BB King's described the band as "literally blowing the roof off" of that venue, and while they happily did no structural damage last evening to the venerable Horse, the exuberance and contagious enthusiasm of this iteration will place this show at or near the top of my favorite shows this year and was unmatched by any previous Strawbs performance I've had "the pleasure and privilege" (to quote David Cousins) of witnessing.
I attribute this in no small measure to the additions of Tony Fernandez on drums and Dave Bainbridge on keys. Could Tony be any more of a monster on the skins? I've known his work with Wakey for decades but am sure I'd never previously seen him live...what a player! Bainbridge I'd seen play guitar with Iona at their show here in Western Mass a few years ago, and I do love my Iona and the solo works I have of his ("Veil of Gossamer", "Celestial Fire") both feature his multi-instrumentalist talents...but could he have looked any happier, any more just ecstatic up there lending wonderful keys work to this band? He never stopped grinning from ear-to-ear, and I think the same was true for me throughout the two-hour show(punctuated by a brief 20 minute intermission so the stalwarts could "reset their pacemakers in hopes of making it through the next set"per David C. Bainbridge's brother was at the show, I believe I heard him say he lived in New Bedford and had driven the two hours to see his brother's performance. Lamby, whose vocal range has diminished over the years (haven't we all?) absolutely relished the warm reception given his stand-out tracks "Just Love" and "Heartbreaker" (performed during the encore prior to "Lay Down"). So while Fernandez and Bainbridge did not steal the show, they added tremendously to the band's sound and there seemed to be genuine affection between "the new guy" (Dave B.) and Cousins in particular.
How many shows prompt you to jump to your feet multiple times during the same gig? Maybe it was just me, but comparing last night's gig with the Anderson Ponty show I saw Saturday night at the Calvin...well, there was no comparison. Anderson Ponty seemed, relatively speaking, a sedate affair with players who could work the material without breaking a sweat, while last night was, again to quote David C. before the encore, "a fantastic night". It was the last night of their tour, the first electric tour of the US in 8 years; let's hope to see them again and not in "another thirty years." On line before the show, a patron asked Lamby why they had decided to make the trek over the pond for this tour. "Well", said Lamby, "it's what we do." Here's hoping they keep on doing it and I will be there!
I had the great pleasure of attending the Milwaukee Turner Hall Gig last night as a VIP ticket holder. Shaking hands with Dave Bainbridge, Tony Fernandez, Dave Lambert, and of course Sir Dave Cousins (someone should knight him - especially after slaying last year's dragons).
I was thrilled to hear the H&H tour recreation as well one of my all-time favorites "Ghosts", but what thrilled me even more was to realize my son and his wife (28 and 26 years respectively) had gained a great appreciation for The Strawbs, my heroes of yesteryear. Having just seen the Who about a month ago, I was totally overjoyed to hear the clear unyielding voices of Cousins and Lambertů yes a little long in the tooth, but polished none the less! As if to bring home the fact they have lost little in the way of vocals, they punctuated the evening with some sweet harmonies in the final encore of "Lay Down", where Cronk, Cousins, Lambert, and Bainbridge absolutely cruised the opening!
Please let them know we are ever grateful they once more blessed the city of Milwaukee by including us in the tour. I am actually an Illinois citizen but find the venues in Milwaukee a bit more down to earth.
God Bless The Strawbs!
Photo from Michael L Jefferson - more photos from Michael
Having been a fan but somehow missing them live in the 70's it was always a dream for me to see the band live. The dream came true for the first time at Nearfest, but little did I realize how many more times I'd experience the magic. Tuesday at Ram's Head Annapolis was a total happening. Packed house with respectful, yet totally enthusiastic punters, pristine sound, intimate venue. The band is amazing, no drop off in song tempo from the 70's shows I've collected, every bit as great. Very much hoping they cop an invite to Cruise to the Edge 2017 - I try and suggest, (nag) Larry Morand as often as possible. Hopefully there will be a CD released from this tour - my favorites tend to tilt between Hero and Ghosts, but I think this show now has me leaning solidly to Hero!
Thank you Dave Cousins and The Strawbs for an OUTSTANDING show last Sunday at the Ukrainian - American Cultural Center in Whippany, NJ.
Photo from Keith Butler