The Hangman and the Papist
Cut Like A Diamond/Something For Nothing
Further Down The Road (with CC, b vcls, RD harm)
Bread And Fishes
Garden Of Love
Nice Legs, Shame About The Face
Ringing Down The Years (plus AW kybds, RS fiddle)
Grace Darling (plus AW kybds)
Turn Your Life Around
I Only Want My Love To Grow In You
Beside The Rio Grande
Out In The Cold/Round And Round
Hero And Heroine (with Blue keybds; RS, fiddle)
I Wish We Could Sleep Together
The Winter And The Summer
A Glimpse Of Heaven
Josephine For Better Or For Worse
Song For A Sad Little Girl
Oh How She Changed
Benedictus (DC dulcimer)
Part Of The Union
The River/Down By The Sea (with BW el gtr; AW kybds)
I'll Carry On Beside You
Will You Go
Tell Me What You See In Me
DC = Dave Cousins
RC = Rod Coombes
CC = Chas Cronk
RD = Rod Demick
TF = Tony Fernandez JF = John Ford
RH = Roy Hill
TH = Tony Hooper
Hud = Richard Hudson
DL = Dave Lambert
Blue = Blue Weaver
BW = Brian Willoughby
CC = Cathryn Craig
RS = Ric Sanders
AW = Adam Wakeman
Long anticipated, the Strawbs 30th anniversary concert has come and gone. Even during the sound check it was apparent that the PA would deliver crystal-clear sound echoing round the natural amphitheatre at Chiswick House, itself excellent acoustically speaking. As at Broxbourne, earlier in the month, Strawbs were tight and clean: by Chiswick they'd been drilled to perfection, after extensive rehearsals under Dave Cousins' expert hand. Whilst John Ford joked that, newly arrived from the US at Dave's house he found they were all at the pub, Dave Lambert later paid tribute to Dave's herculean efforts in putting the show together: everyone in the audience would have had no doubt that his hard work paid off.
Opening the show were Cousins and Willoughby with "The Hangman and the Papist" - which Dave announced as a tribute to those who died in Omagh. It's staggering to realise that Dave and Brian have been working together for as a duo 20 years: since those first forays back onto the folk scene in the late 70s.
Bringing on the other members of the current band, Hud, Blue Weaver and Rod Demick, Strawbs launched into their "rock band" set with "Cut Like A Diamond"/"Something Or Nothing" followed by a blistering version of Dave's solo album classic "Blue Angel".
Next to come up on stage, special guest Nashville singer Cathryn Craig, currently also working with Brian as a duo, and vocalist (apart from a track by Mary Hopkin) on his brand new solo album Black and White. She provided backing vocals on "Further Down The Road", from Dave & Brian's album, The Bridge, with Rod doubling up on harmonica and bass.
Exit Strawbs, leaving Brian Willoughby and Cathryn Craig on stage for a song from Cathryn's album Porch Songs.
John Ford was the next acoustic act: a couple from his imminent solo CD Life Is A Highway, the old folkie standard "Bread and Fishes" and an emotional tribute to John's young son who died of leukemia a while back - "Garden Of Love". Hud came on next and the duo stepped up the pace with John's "Heavy Disguise" followed by their proto-punk hit from the late 70s - the Monks' "Nice Legs, Shame About The Face".
The current Strawbs trooped on again, this time with a couple of surprise guests: keyboards wiz Adam Wakeman and, guesting from Fairport Convention, ace fiddle player Ric Sanders. Dave told the story of how Sandy Denny joined the band and then Sanders joined in for "Ringing Down The Years" - visually dynamic as ever, ducking and weaving around the stage, After the song, Dave quipped that perhaps he'd like to join a band .... Losing Ric (for now) but retaining Adam, "Grace Darling" - with a fine Willoughby electric guitar solo - completed the first set.
Rod Demick had the unenviable task of opening the second, with a song dedicated to wife Sarah "Turn Your Life Around". (Rod too had advance copies of a new solo CD with him.) He next introduced the "US" Strawbs: Cousins, Dave Lambert, Chas Cronk, Rod Coombes - beardless and these days settled back in England after a long spell in Thailand, with Adam Wakeman filling in admirably for the missing John Hawken.
"I Only Want My Love To Grow In You" was marred only by the loss of Lambert's vocals in the middle section - hopefully the mobile studio caught them even if we didn't! They stayed with Deep Cuts for "Beside The Rio Grande" and then, moving back 3 years to the Hero And Heroine period. in quick succession - and just as they tended to do in those days, without much introduction - the band gave us Strawbs classics "Out In The Cold/Round And Round", Lambert excelling on guitar - as though he had never been away!
Finally, with almost no gap, Blue and Ric had snuck back on stage, and the went straight into a fiddle-enhanced "Hero And Heroine". This line-up demonstrated tremendous of energy and really got the crowd moving.
Breathless with excitement, Dave announced Chas's old mate (briefly a Strawb) Roy Hill joining him and his formidable array of bass pedals as duo Cry No More. The crowd were amused by Roy's inimitable banter and the change of pace and style. "Landslide" from their Power And Love album was followed, after an execrable Bob Dylan impersonation, by "I Wish We Could Sleep Together".
Next, an obviously warm welcome for Dave Lambert returning to the stage for an acoustic set in front of a home crowd - "I'm a Hounslow boy", he declared. He gave us "The Winter And The Summer", as fresh now as it was in 1973. Ringing the changes, he went into his skinhead satire "Bovver Blues - smiles all round - and finally the title track from his 1979 solo album "Framed".
Lambert introduced Tony Hooper and another Strawbs next took flight - the Cambridge Folk Festival 1983 to 1985 Strawbs line-up: the five members who recorded their best selling 1972 album Grave New World, plus Brian Willoughby. However they concentrated mainly on much earlier songs, "A Glimpse of Heaven" and the title track from the Witchwood album, a lone track from Dragonfly, the long-time concert favourite "Josephine For Better Or For Worse", and the delicate "Song Of A Sad Little Girl" from Antiques And Curios.
Announcing "Oh How She Changed", the Strawbs' first single on A&M Records 30 years ago, Cousins noted that the producer of that record, Gus Dudgeon, was in the audience. It really has stood the test of time - the light folk-based harmonies blend superbly with the rock band instrumentation. To finish the second set Cousins took to a chair, dulcimer in hand, for another welcome favourite - the anthemic "Benedictus".
For the final set, a particular treat: the first time the chart-busting Bursting At The Seams Strawbs line-up has played together for 25 years! The orchestral passage from "Down By The Sea" played over the PA as Cousins, Lambert, Hudson, Ford and Weaver took to the stage in darkness and then bathed in red spotlights - their usual opening number back in '73, "New World". Dave Cousins' vocals over a wash of acoustic guitar, Lambert's thrashing chords, mellotrons helpfully provided by Streetly Electronics and expertly handled by Blue; and all underpinned by John Ford's percussive bass and the power and accuracy of Hud's drumming. Truly the quintessential Strawbs track.
"Stormy Down" followed and then the hits - "Part Of The Union" and "Lay Down" with Lambert's electric guitar licks in places note for note with the albums they came from. Adding Brian Willoughby and Adam Wakeman to the ensemble, the tentative chords of "The River" led into the epic "Down By The Sea". Tumultuous applause, then Tony returned to the stage to sing the "final number" "I'll Carry On Beside You", with Cathryn also joining in on backing vocals to swell the chorus, before the predictable (and justified) call for encores.
Before those encores, one of the nicest touches of the evening - Ron Chesterman appeared on stage - the third of the original Strawbs, sadly too unwell to play. Then all Strawbs of various vintages took the stage, plus guests Craig, Sanders and Wakeman. A call went out for Tony Fernandez to come on stage - not included in the show only because he is left handed and unable to play the right handed drumkit available. Grouping round various microphones, the first encore was one they used to play back in '73, "Will You Go", the B-side of "Part Of The Union": everybody knew it and joined in.
And finally, the encore which represents both today and yesterday for the Strawbs: a song recorded on the Strawbs first A&M album, but which goes back even to the Sandy Denny sessions in Copenhagen, "Tell Me What You See In Me" was revamped for their last studio album in 1991. Ric Sanders' bowed and plucked fiddle and Wakeman's piano solo rounded out the sound of the 1991 arrangement (the 1969 version would have required a five-piece Arab band and wisely was not attempted).
That was it - all that was left was for Cousins to thank the audience - "See you at the 40th" he quipped - and for the collected Strawbs to take a bow. With only four hours of playing time available to them, and the rich legacy of Strawbs material to choose from, there were always going to be some hard decisions - no doubt everyone will have a few favourites they hoped in their hearts to have heard again. My own were probably "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus", "Martin Luther King's Dream", "Autumn", "Ghosts", "You And I When We Were Young" and "Simple Visions" (with Chas and John joining Dave on acoustics and Rod on bass, wouldn't that sound fine!). Others have mentioned "The Life Auction", "Tears And Pavan", "Sheep", "Tomorrow" and "The Antique Suite".
Nevertheless, the feedback from the crowd was tremendous and unanimous, and Strawbs had very good reason indeed to be pleased with themselves. The only complaint was that they want it all again sooner than 10 years away - next year ideally - perhaps we'll all get our wishes then .......
My own sincere thanks to Dave Cousins and all the band members, guests and others who made it possible to enjoy such a wonderful evening of Strawbs music. Thanks also to the audience, many of you coming from far flung places - the U.S., Canada, Germany, Greece, as well as the accessible and inaccessible parts of the U.K.
A selection of photos by Ian Hulland, Adrian the Rock, Thomas Portmann, Steve Edwards and Joachim Bjork - more photos by these folks and others
Cathryn Craig with the Strawbs
Hud and John - Heavy Disguise
Special guest Ric Sanders
Hero and Heroine, with Ric Sanders
Chas Cronk and Roy Hill, Cry No More
Bursting At The Seams band
Bursting At The Seams band
It's taken a couple of weeks for Chiswick to sink in.... I don't think I've ever been in a more ideal setting to hear the music that has meant so much to me for so many years. It has even more meaning to me now, as I got to pass on the legacy of it to my four year old son, (who accompanied me) and has heard the songs and been sung to sleep each night with a song from one of the early albums. I thought my heart would burst when he sang along.
To the members of the Strawbs, past and present, I can only say the most heartfelt thanks for creating and performing the music that has been a source of strength and comfort and the greatest gift I ever could have received. Do it again, do it in America, don't stop doing it!!!!
For me the Strawbs 30th Anniversary gig was a dream come true! Ever since my university days in the 70's the group has been at the top of my music charts!!! The irony was that I never had an opportunity to see them perform live. Coming from the US and having this be the first live gig to experience was magical. It was one of those moments in time were a group of people come together to share their beautiful talents with the folks who they have touched through their music for many years. The blending of the sets with the solo acts allowed you to walk through the life journey of Strawbs and at the same time recognize the individuals that made it all possible.
The following day at the Duke of York was very special. Hero and Heroine was played many an evening back in the university days. Being on the other side of the ocean I never dreamed I would have an opportunity to meet the members of Strawbs. My thanks to Dave, Hud, Chas, and Rod for your genuine hospitality. It was like being invited to be part of a family reunion. The H&H cover became the old family photo album being passed around!
I look forward to being able to treat you to some of our bitters in a US pub someday, hopefully soon. Our best wishes to a great group of musicians, their families and friends!! Love, Lou and Kathy Monticchio.
And what a day it was ...
Chiswick Gardens, a beautiful place, the amphitheatre the ideal arena for a picnic in the green (not as ideal for a rock concert, a pond in the middle, right in front of the stage, kept the band at distance). Champagne was flowing (at least some, definitely more beer) ... lots of people of all ages ... the sun was shining, it was nice and warm, so the atmosphere got to everybody pretty soon in spite of the distance to the stage (I would not want to think what would have happened if it had rained - disaster ??)
Dave and Brian started the evening with the "Hangman". A slightly(?) nervous Dave screamed out the lyrics ... kind of an awkward start, it seems that Dave put it up front to remind of the recent events in Northern Ireland. The song came over with the right intensity, but I would have loved to hear it in some kind of "heavier" arrangement. After this song I started wondering how Dave´s voice would "survive" the evening (it did!!!).
Highlight (one among LOTS): "Hero And Heroine" with Ric Sanders on the violin!
Special songs: "The Winter And The Summer" (Dave Lambert solo), "Nice Legs, Shame About The Face" (Hudson/Ford solo)
Surprise: "Beside The Rio Grande" (love that song!)
Missed: "GHOSTS" !!!
No songs from Nomadness (a pity!) and Deadlines (understandable) ...
Almost everybody was there, Mr Wakeman Jr ("we could not afford to have him play on all the songs") came instead of his dad (a pity that Rick wasn´t there) to play keyboards, Blue Weaver on most songs ... no other keyboard player around (where were the others) ?!!?
GREAT EVENING, can´t wait for the 40th anniversary!! BTW: what about a 33rd anniversary concert ("coming of age" according to Tolkien)?
I'm a German fan and flew to London (from Frankfurt) over the weekend just to see the Strawbs. I have to admit that it was one of the finest days in my life and that every single track they performed was worth the journey. It was the first time I saw the Strawbs live and it was a real great show. I arrived at Heathrow airport at 8:00 a.m., took a hotel room near Earls Court and visited some of the major record stores in the city (where I spent a lot of money). At the Tower store I tried to buy tickets for the evening, but the girl told me that they were not on their list. I even had to spell the band name, cause she didn't know the Strawbs!
I came over to Chiswick park about 3 a.m. on a beautiful sunny day, just in time to watch a 2 hour soundcheck in an impressive natural surrounding, which made me looking forward for the evening show. Some minutes after I arrived 2 guys came and asked me about the musicians. I soon recognized them as Austrians (they were from Vienna) and we all were happy to meet other German speaking Strawbs fans. We became friends and you surely can imagine what we were talking about until the show started.
We had to wait half an hour after the doors opened for our entry because we didn't have tickets yet, but we still found a beautiful place with good view to the stage. I had suspected "Cut Like A Diamond" as opener and was surprised when they started with one of my 3 Strawbs' favorite songs, "The Hangman And The Papist". This was the beginning of a perfect evening, every song and every performance a jewel, much better than I had expected in my dreams. The whole atmosphere was familiar and relaxed, the musicians did a brilliant job, the audience was great and enjoyed every number. Dave really grabbed out some surprises, both personally and musically. When they played "Beside The Rio Grande", which is my favorite Strawbs song, I felt like in heaven. But this great version was even topped by the incredibly performance of "Hero And Heroine" (the 3rd of my favorites), Ric's violin giving the song a complete new feeling. To me this was the top highlight of this evening among other highlights, without exception. The show ended as brilliant as it began, with the beautiful numbers "Will You Go" (would have been a perfect A side) and "Tell Me What You See In Me". All in all, a day I will never forget, thanks to everyone who made it possible.
The only thing that's a pity is that I couldn't come to lunch the next day to meet the band members. I had booked my flight back home for Sunday, 1:00 p.m., and there was no money left for rebooking. The last money I had I spent for the "Cry No More" CD after hearing "Landslide".
Let's pray that a CD-set (or even a video?) of that great show will be officially released and that the Strawbs keep alive for a long, long time.
Congratulations to everyone involved in the celebration...what a brilliant night ! I hope that the success of Saturday's Event will lead to it becoming an annual event. Fairport do Cropredy...how about Strawbs doing Chiswick ?
I thought the whole evening was brilliant. Benedictus is one of my favourite tracks so I was well pleased when I saw Dave sit down. As far as I know it is the only number for which he sits. I loved the 1972 group performing together again. Pity it will probably never happen again but it was something I had never seen before, seeing them for the first time on the Hero And Heroine tour. How come John Ford still looks around 30? He must work very hard at it or be very lucky.
How sad it is that all the work went for only 1 gig. Please pass this along if possible. Please please PLEASE COME TO THIS SIDE OF THE POND. Thank you. Wish I could have been there. Mike
What a show! I managed to be one of the first into the grounds and had a fantastic spot just right of the obelisk. I think the show exceeded all my expectations. One song I would have liked to hear was "In Amongst The Roses"... Shame I couldn't get to the pub on Sunday but I had to travel to Devon, what a weekend, Strawbs on Saturday, and my own glimpse of heaven on Sunday and Monday.
I, along with my three mates, all die hard Strawbs fans, really enjoyed the show. It was quite poignant for us because one of our lads, also called Blue (but can't play the spoons let alone a keyboard) is off for a year around the world (post relationship depression I think they call it) and so it was a fitting goodbye to him from us all. ....Needless to say as I drove back home to Leicester that night I had Halcyon Days blaring at me out of the CD player. It was a damn good memory and better than the last outdoor Strawbs gig I went to at Stansfield a few years back.
We had a great time. Loved the wonderful Chiswick grounds and amphitheatre. Loved the informal nature of it all, with band members strolling through the audience, people just hanging out and picnicking. God-bless the pub tent! How did things go the next day at the pub meet-and-greet? We were sorry we couldn't attend, but part of the deal getting over to the UK was letting my wife set the entire itinerary *after* the Strawbs show! Overall, it was a wonderful show and well worth the trip to see the varying lineup!
Okay, so now all you have to do is get the guys (in one form or another) over here to the States for a few gigs! To begin with, they can come to NY for Mr. Ford, whom we also had a nice chat with, so us starved US fans can get a taste of it all.
I´m not the type of guy, who runs after any "idol" (I´m too old for that anyway...) but I`ve been convinced, the Strawbs are GREAT musicians (though they´ve never had the success they´d earned) and still they behave like your next door neighbours without any star allures. That weekend has been one of the finest in my life!