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MARCH 2009

Updated: 20 Mar 2009

  • Explosive - Review by Judi Cuervo - Wakefield (7 Mar), Bellville (8 Mar), Toronto (9 Mar)
  • Outstanding Performances Every Time - Review by Dave Ferrisey - Bellville (8 Mar),Toronto (10 Mar), Oakville (11 Mar)
  • Strawbs 2009 - Review by Amanda Baughn
  • Capitol Theatre, Moncton NB, Thursday 5 March 2009
  • Just As Good Last Night As 35 Years Ago - Review by Patrick McWade
  • Comments by Millard Steeper
  • Comments by Mike aka Atlantic Salmon
  • Setlist from Mike
  • Café Campus, Montreal QC, Friday 6 March 2009
  • A Great Great Show By Top Professionals - Review by Jean Deschesnes
  • Commments from Jacques Pacquet
  • Setlist from Bryan
  • Black Sheep Inn, Wakefield QC, Saturday 7 March 2009
  • Comments from Gianluca Ragazzini
  • Setlist from Gianluca
  • Empire Theatre, Bellville ON, Sunday 8 March 2009
  • Setlist from Dave Ferrisey
  • Hugh's Room, Toronto ON, Monday 9 March 2009
  • Blown Away - comments from Bob Moore
  • Troubadours In The Highest Sense - Review by Bruce Thomson
  • Hugh's Room, Toronto ON, Tuesday 10 March 2009
  • Full Frontal Strawbs - Review by Cinnie Morgan
  • Top That ! - Review by Robert Hinz
  • God, I Love This Band - Review by Doug Leblanc
  • Shining - Comments from Bob Moore
  • Comments from Madeleine Hague
  • Setlist from Robert Hinz
  • Oakville Centre For The Performing Arts, Oakville ON, Wednesday 11 March 2009
  • And Then There Was Oakville - Review by Doug Leblanc
  • The Best So Far - Comments from Judi Cuervo
  • Amazing Show From An Incredibly Gifted Set Of Performers - Review by W Stokeld
  • Superlative For Sound, Maybe The Best Of All Shows At This Place - a different view from Jean-Claude
  • Something Truly Remarkable - Review by Roger Hill
  • Setlist from Dave Ferrisey
  • Hamilton Place, Hamilton ON, Thursday 12 March 2009
  • Comments from Ian Stewart



    EXPLOSIVE - Review by Judi Cuervo

    First, I have a question: WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE????? Someone posts the set list filled with things like "Something For Nothing", "Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth", "Tell Me What You See In Me", "Canada", "The Winter And The Summer", and "Sheep", for pete's sake, and no comments???? I, actually, was disappointed to see that the set list was posted because I know how totally blown away I was at the first show and wished the poster didn't ruin the surprise.

    Wakefield was slightly rocky. A bar atmosphere which didn't lend itself too well to good sound despite Paul's magic. Still, it was the first gig I saw, and nearly died when they launched into some of the new set list additions. It was my first sight of Oliver Wakeman and, With all due, due, due respect to Hawken, Oliver's feature in "Where Is This Dream Of Our Youth" is explosive. Nearly knocked the keyboards over, he attacked it so hard, hair flailing all over the place--amazing talent, terrific stage presence. (I heard someone at Hugh's Room last night saying "Well, I don't know if it's today's technology or what, but I think he's better than Rick Wakeman.") All this while feeling under the weather.

    Which is the problem, if I may inject an aside here. Both Oliver and Lambert aren't feeling well and I'm the newest casualty. As I write this, I could easily puke on my shoes.

    But back to the shows...

    The following night was my favorite performance thus far. Belleville. A lovely theater with crystal clear sound and tons of stage space. Cousins voice was superb, Cronk's harmonies were more audible and Lambert got the "Fire" (haw! haw! haw!) that was everso slightly subdued the night before because he wasn't feeling well. Rod's solo seemed a bit more intense and maybe a bit longer than the evening before.

    Hugh's Room is a very special place for me. So cool to go there and run into people who I only see in Toronto when Strawbs are playing. People like Richard, the club's owner, Peter, the club's photographer and his wife, the only and only Bob and his adoreable daughter Tiffany (current owner of the "Youngest Strawbs Fan" title since Amanda is now in her 20s). Our beloved Doug couldn't get out of work so he was forced to miss last night, but somehow I believe Bob who was MESMERIZED (he was at the table next to ours) will update him. Sound was good at Hugh's Room but again, Belleville was flawless.

    A few words about Cousins: he obviously went shopping. Some fabulous new stagewear including a silver silk shirt with maybe a silver on silver dotted pattern and an incredible white one with a pattern of sequins.

    Terrific, terrific gigs so far. Well worth getting sick over. Now, excuse me while I return to my pepto bismal.

    STRAWBS 2009 - Review by Amanda Baughn

    Strawbs is the band that constantly evolves. Since first seeing the band five years ago, I have already witnessed the performances of four different incarnations of the band. There have been two versions of the Acoustic Strawbs, first with Brian Willoughby, and later with Chas Cronk. In 2004 many of us were blessed to witness the reunion of the Ghosts/Hero and Heroine lineup of Cousins, Lambert, Cronk, Coombes, and Hawken. Now, in the present year we are seeing what I can only describe as Strawbs 2009.

    This is the future of the greatest progressive rock band in the history of music. The band is anything but outdated! The majority of the set list was the more unfamiliar material from the Strawbs songbook, but they pulled it off with gusto. Vintage material like "Sheep" was injected with new energy and the new songs off the latest album The Broken Hearted Bride are stronger than ever. In addition to this, current keyboardist Oliver Wakeman has a unique touch that has to be seen and heard, to be believed. (Fortunately, as evidenced in years past, Dave Cousins is well known for picking out the most talented keyboardists he can find.)

    Just when you think that they can not get any better and that you could not possibly be more impressed with such a gifted group of musicians, they surprise you again.

    I hope they continue to do so for years to come.




    Kathy (understanding wife) and I have just completed our trilogy of Strawbs gigs - Belleville, Hugh's Room (2nd night), and Oakville. 45 minutes for the first half, 75 for the second - outstanding performances for the 2 hours every time.

    The new songs blend in like timeless classics. Belleville did suffer from the late inclusion to the tour - only 120 tickets sold - but the audience, theatre and sound was excellent. Hugh's Room was packed and attended by Canadian rocker Kim Mitchell who generously promoted the tour on his Q107 radio show.

    A special mention to the Oakville Centre For The Performing Arts - capacity crowd of near 500, and a theatre with awesome sound and sightlines. There was something about this performance that reached new heights - perhaps the combination of an excellent audience and fantastic acoustics inspired the band even more than usual. Many songs were acclaimed with long, standing ovations.

    At all venues, there was the customary friendliness of all band members when meeting fans after the concert. Oliver fits in brilliantly - both musically and in his easy going warm nature.

    Setlist from Mike

    Lay Down
    New World
    The Hangman And The Papist
    Something For Nothing
    The River/Down By The Sea

    The Broken Hearted Bride
    Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth
    Out In The Cold/Round And Round
    The Winter And The Summer
    The Call To Action
    Hero And Heroine

    Tell Me What You See In Me


    JUST AS GOOD LAST NIGHT AS 35 YEARS AGO - Review by Patrick McWade

    I attended the Strawbs concert in Moncton New Brunswick last night. The venue was so reminiscent of where I first saw them in Detroit about 35 years ago: a small antique theater. And the band was just as good last night as then.

    David Cousins still has the voice to match every song. He has lost nothing over the years. The vocals by Dave Lambert, the harmonies of the three including Chas Coomes all sustained the test of time.

    Add to that a well-done drum solo, and the keyboard embellishments and fills of Oliver Wakeman, and the two 50-minute sets went by quicker than the 20-minute intermission.

    Then, to top off an already exceptional evening, they all wandered into the little lobby to chat and sign autographs. And what must be noted is that whenever any one was engaged in conversation, he looked at you, attended to what you were saying, and graciously responded like we were all old friends. (One might expect a patronizing nod as the "star" scanned the crowd for a new fawning fan or quick escape. Didn't happen.) We chatted briefly about the "Ghosts" tour I saw them on, and Rod expanded on my comment about the synthesized drum solo.

    The concert was all I'd hoped to expect. The drive home was a smile. The midnight arrival was the end of a good day.

    And it's neat to be able to thank a performer and tell them what a good job they did.

    Comments by Millard Steeper

    The show was fantastic, D.L. a little under the weather, otherwise the band as powerful as ever. No doubt that Oliver will steal the show when given the opportunity, terrific addition .

    Only wish not granted.... "Christmas Cheer" not on the list.

    Thanks again boys for doing it for Canada, we appreciate it.

    Comments by Mike aka Atlantic Salmon

    Great show put on by the boys at the lovely Capitol Theatre in Moncton, New Brunswick on March 5, 2009

    The "Daves" were in fine form and what an addition Oliver Wakeman is to the band. Cronk and Coombes kept the pulse going and both seemed to be having a great time. "Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth" - Lambert and Wakeman - WOW!!!!

    It was just about a full house. Cousins had the crowd roaring with a few tales between the songs.

    We sure hope we get to see them again soon.

    Setlist from Bryan

    Autographed setlist from Bryan - click to see full size version



    I saw the Montreal Strawbs show on March 6 at the Café Campus - a small venue that was max packed with Strawbs fans (around 500 or something like that). I saw the band in Montreal in 2007 too.

    So, in the weeks before, we prepare ourselves for the show: listening all of the albums including A Taste Of Strawbs (one of the best boxset of the 75 boxsets I own), asking ourselves what songs will be performed. We guessed songs from the Wakeman era and we were right! The band performed a set list containing an overview of the past 40 years, with 2-3 songs from The Broken Hearted Bride, 3 from From the Witchwood and 3-4 from Hero And Heroine which is obviously the best loved Strawbs album in Québec because the band earned a stand-up ovation at he beginning and the end of the "Autumn" suite and later on while playing "Out In The Cold".

    The band was in great shape and the vocals of Dave Cousins were intense and emotionally strong as usual. Dave went wild about 20-30 seconds from the beginning of "Tell Me What You See In Me" as he suddently stopped playing, which surprise all including the band members who stopped playing as well !...We don't know exactly why..(I think he loose the sound of his guitar or voice..) ..but the band restart the song soon after.

    It was the second Canadian show and it was obvious that Oliver Wakeman was still learning the songs as he was frequently (or constantly) looking at his notes...but he was very good at doing his music parts. Dave Lambert was very great....The lighting was also very good ...It was a great great show made by top professionals musicians and composers and we were privileged to see this great band again in 2009!

    Sorry for those who missed the show or the tour - but you missed the cream of music bands.. Thank you very very much to the Strawbs and their organisation for coming to Québec/Montreal. We drove two hours to go there and see this incredible show and I will be doing it for each new Strawbs show in the future.

    Photo by Hugues - more pictures from the show from Hugues - there's also a second gallery of backstage and after show shots

    Commments from Jacques Pacquet

    I'd like to add a comment to the review of the Montreal show held at Cafe Campus.

    Dave Cousins & the band stopped playing because the monitors stopped working & he couldn't hear himself sing. The quality of the sound during the first set was awful: Dave Lambert's guitar was too loud and we could barely hear Oliver Wakeman's keyboards. Everything was corrwcted for the 2nd set, which was by far better than the first.

    When I think I first saw The Strawbs in 1972 at McGill University in Montreal (a free show!), just after the release of Grave New World, it makes me feel a little bit old...

    Photo by Michel Parent - more pictures from Michel

    Setlist from Gianluca

    Lay Down
    New World
    The Hangman And The Papist
    The Winter And The Summer
    Something Or Nothing

    Tell Me What You See In Me
    Broken-Hearted Bride
    Out In The Cold / Round And Round
    The River/Down By The Sea
    The Call To Action
    Drum Solo
    Hero And Heroine

    Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth


    Comments from Gianluca Ragazzini

    The concert on Saturday was great! I have to say, though, that the quality of the sound at the Black Sheep Inn is not great - to say the least. Besides that, we had great seats and very much enjoyed the show...

    See also Judi Cuervo's review above.

    Setlist from Dave Ferrissy

    Lay Down
    New World
    The Hangman And The Papist
    The Winter And The Summer
    Something For Nothing

    Tell Me What You See In Me
    The Broken Hearted Bride
    Out In The Cold/Round And Round
    The River/Down By The Sea
    The Call To Action
    Drum Solo
    Hero And Heroine

    Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth


    See Judi Cuervo's review above and Dave Ferrisey's review above.


    BLOWN AWAY - comments from Bob Moore

    I took my daughter Tiffany to the show and we were both blown away. We met a few regulars there and everyone had the time of their lives. I wish that Ken and Jerry could have made it!

    Anyway, the show opened with a superb and upbeat rendition of "Lay Down". To our extreme enjoyment this was followed by an extremely emotional version of "New World". Then after Dave expressed his feelings about the killings in Ireland they broke into "The Hangman And The Papist", another very powerful rendition! This was followed by a very lovely version of Lambert's "The Winter And The Summer". Oliver Wakeman literally blew the entire establishment away on the the next tune "Sheep". This was followed by "Something For Nothing", another masterpiece in which Chas Cronk, he of the famous Cronk-o-matic, really blew us away on his bass. Then the final song of the first set, one of my, and my daughter's personal favorites "Autumn/The Winter Long" was truly amazing.

    The band then had to recharge their pacemakers but came back with "Tell Me What You See In Me". After this they went full force into the incredible "Broken Hearted Bride". This one really blew all away. "Out In The Cold" was next followed by "Round And Round" in which Rod Coombes really excelled with some of the best drumming I have ever heard. Next up was "Heartbreaker", "The River/Down By The Sea". "The Call To Action" was next and Oliver excelled in the Celtic beat on the boards. This was followed by an absolutely amazing drum solo that seemed to come out of nowhere! Watch Rod go! Next up was "Hero And Heroine". This was the end of the second set.

    The encore was an incredible version of "Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth" in which Oliver outdid himself on the boards. All in all one of the finest shows I've seen.

    TROUBADOURS IN THE HIGHEST SENSE - Review by Bruce Thomson

    I agree with the review by Doug LeBlanc, in fact I am sure those were my exact words as well "God, I love this band" after the show.

    What is special is the symbiotic relationship between the band and us, their listeners, there is a feeling of celebration and the knowledge I would suppose, that their small tour here in Quebec and Ontario is as much about wanting to share with us that feeling of celebration than any other consideration (sure can't be about our lovely weather at the moment).

    I did not know Dave Lambert was not well, indeed, you would be hard pressed to notice; this man has a constant smile on his face as if it were his very first live show. Chas Cronk is all calmness as he plays effortlessly; Oliver Wakeman, whom I had a chance to talk with briefly is a natural (comes from his Mum), Rod Coombes has a smoothness that I recognize as unique and plays ghost notes with the best of them and Mr. Cousins is the story teller and of course the heart and soul and that is what came across to me at the show on Monday.

    I have to confess that I was sad after the show along with the meet and greet was over, it felt the way it does when relatives you have not seen an a very long time who's company you have always enjoyed, finally have to go home. The Strawbs are Troubadours in the highest sense and I look forward to their next visit.

    See Judi Cuervo's review above.

    Setlist from Robert Hinz

    Lay Down
    New World
    The Hangman and the Papist
    The Winter and the Summer
    Something for Nothing

    Tell Me What You See in Me
    The Broken Hearted Bride
    Out in the Cold / Round and Round
    The River
    Call to Action
    Drum Solo
    Hero and Heroine

    Where is This Dream of Your Youth


    FULL FRONTAL STRAWBS - Review by Cinnie Morgan

    Rather than wax poetic, which is so easy to do with the Strawbs and has so aptly been done by others, I'm going to try my best to step back a bit and look at this show with a more critical eye.

    What we have here is a brand new band, a band that has clearly been praised at every stop. And the question is why. How can the Strawbs continue to remain so fresh and seemingly new, when most of us can sing every song by heart? In this particular case, I would think that the answer is Oliver Wakeman.

    Just four days into touring with the Strawbs, Wakeman had some very big shoes to fill, following the departure of John Hawken; but fortunately, he has his own large feet to stand upon. Wakeman is stylistically remote from Hawken, and he challenges the audience to come with him on his musical journey. The audience obliges. It seemed to my ears that, rather than fill the niche left by Hawken, the Strawbs had wrapped themselves around Wakeman's style in the most successful possible way. Actually, I believe that this is the essence of this Strawbs line-up.

    Wakeman was wise not to tamper with the signature acappela show opener of "Lay Down" and make his entrance in the traditional way that we're accustomed to. But when he did so, he did not enter timidly but laid siege in the traditional prog mode, and we were all slammed by full, frontal Strawbs. And I cannot say for sure, because I was never able to ask the question, but from that first entrance to the last note of the encore, I had the feeling that the pace -- the beat of the songs -- was faster than it had been in previous years.

    I was very happy to hear so many earlier songs (see set list elsewhere), as well as recent ones. Dave Cousins remains passionate, and his early lyrics are uncannily prophetic. Perhaps the sites of violence have changed – although in some cases not at all – but the message remains the same. With Wakeman's fresh approach, and the consistently reliable support from Chas Cronk, Rod Coombes and Dave Lambert, what arises is a Strawbs with more of a prog base and more dimensionality – a more insistent, demanding, less mellow and laid back band that was most obvious in "Autumn." I was quite interested to hear "The Call To Action," because I have heard it in so many different permutations. I found it slightly discordant, and I suspect that it was such intentionally. I can't imagine it being an accident.

    One consistently anticipated highlight of Electric Strawbs concerts is always Coombes' drum solo. By the mid-1970s, I would have said that I could have done without ever hearing another drum solo. But his is music, rather than mere thrashing around, banging on whatever is nearest to him. It works.

    In the end, everyone got a moment in the sun, and if this was Wakeman's little showcase, then chalk it up to the nature of prog – more presence, if less delicacy. And the beauty of the Strawbs is the band's versatility and professionalism. It's no secret that I'm a John Hawken fan. But I'm now also an Oliver Wakeman fan. I like apples, but that doesn't mean that I can't enjoy oranges, too. And I've never seen the Strawbs do a bad show – only a good show, a better show, and an over-the–top show. If you can manage to see this current line-up, do it.

    TOP THAT ! - Review by Robert Hinz

    The setlist was pretty well identical to the earlier Canadian dates, save for a different running order, and the omission of "Canada". Stupidly I forgot my camera, so I have no photos of the show as I usually do, but there were many others there who were taking them, so hopefully you will get some from them.

    The band seemed to be in very good spirits…they were obviously enjoying themselves throughout the entire show, and the packed house at Hugh's Room gave them an enthusiastic response the whole night. The addition of Oliver Wakeman seemed to inject an additional shot of energy into the performance (no disrespect to John Hawken, who did a wonderful job on the last electric tour…) – he is an amazing keyboardist who at times reminded us of his father, at others (especially during his spectacular work on "Where Is This Dream of Your Youth" at the end of the evening…) he sounded very much like Jon Lord/Don Airey of Deep Purple (a very good thing…as they are amongst the top keyboard musicians on the planet…).

    Although there were some mellow moments (Dave Cousins' very haunting introduction to "The Hangman And The Papist", where you could have heard a pin drop in the room…), the band sounded louder and edgier than on the previous electric tour (again, in my opinion…this was a very good thing and turned what was expected to be a great show into an outstanding and exceptionally memorable one). Dave Lambert's Les Paul didn't have a lot of downtime the entire night!

    Dave Cousins as always took the time to introduce many of the songs with some interesting background, including the two cuts off the latest CD. A few songs into the set, he introduced the band members just so we wouldn't think that they were some kind of sketchy 'tribute' band. Highly unlikely!

    A great show…one that will be challenging to top on the next tour. We can all only hope that Oliver Wakeman has some spare time on his calendar when they hit the road again!

    GOD, I LOVE THIS BAND - Review by Doug Leblanc

    The band is going to have to cut down on these shows. I am running out of superlatives! Not to mention laxative, er, maybe we don't wanna go there.

    Incredible! Absolutely amazing! To be honest, I was dumbfounded! God, they played 'Sheep'! I never thought I would see the day!

    Really, excellent song selection, each one played magnificently! DC's voice was a strong as I have ever heard it. Lambert was, of course, amazing, and Oliver! Wow! Brilliant keyboard work, and I've seen his old man play dozens of times! He equals him, although he doesn't quite have the old man's stage presence. Yet. Still, an excellent performance! The encore of "Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth" blew me away!

    Of course, Chas and Rod were their usual super selves! You know, sometimes when you hear the Strawbs on record, you can't really appreciate the work these great performers put in. But on stage - they are nothing less than superb! Consumate artists who know each other with the refined distinction you can only see with such professionals.

    You know, one of the things that attracts me to Strawbs shows in the number of dimensions they work with. Yes, there is the three dimensional performance of excellent musicianship and magnificent performance. But beyond that, there is the deep emotional and spiritual dimensions they bring to their shows. I love their music,and even after seeing them so many times, I'm not even close to being bored with them. Each performance is a masterpiece unto itself; an experience unequaled anywhere in music.

    God, I love this band

    SHINING - Comments from Bob Moore

    I just read Doug's review which was excellent, and I must agree wholeheartedly. This was definitely the best Strawbs show that I personally have ever been to. What thrilled me the most was the fact that each member of the band had his own chance to shine at some point in the show. Don't get me wrong, they were all perfect throughout but each song had one of the members shine. Hey, my eyes are still shining! Never seen so much extremely intense emotion from Dave Cousins, especially in his intense songs, ("Sheep", "The Hangman And The Papist", "New World", "Broken Hearted Bride", "The Call To Action"). Chas was great throughout and really shone in "Round And Round". Rod was really into it all night and really shone in his perfect drum solo. I was blown away! Dave Lambert was also perfect throughout and my personal favorite was "Autumn/The Winter Long". Perfect rendition! And last but certainly not least Oliver Wakeman blew everyone away! Fantastic addition to the band! His talent really excelled in "Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth"!

    All in all one of the best nights of my life. A very special thanks to Peter Rowe who took some amazing photos in the meet and greet!!!!! It was great to see Judy again and Dorie, Cinnie and I met Amanda another great Strawbs fanatic!!!!

    Comments from Madeleine Hague

    Hello from 3 Strawbs fans in Canada who attended their March 10th show at Hughs Room. Oliver Wakeman did a fantastic job. What a talented man. Dave said something like this at the break: "Well, we're going off to boot up our pacemakers, while Oliver has his nap" After, band stuck around to sign things, have a chat, very approachable. I asked Chas Cronk how John Hawken was doing, and he said fine.

    A great show. Toronto loves the Strawbs. From Madeleine, Mike and Andrew – 2 old fans and one new one.

    See Dave Ferrisey's review above.

    Setlist from Dave Ferrissy

    Lay Down
    New World
    The Hangman And The Papist
    The Winter And The Summer
    Something For Nothing

    Tell Me What You See In Me
    The Broken Hearted Bride
    Out In The Cold/Round And Round
    The River/Down By The Sea
    The Call To Action
    Drum Solo
    Hero And Heroine

    Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth


    AND THEN THERE WAS OAKVILLE - Review by Doug Leblanc

    And then there was Oakville. The Strawbs were, well, the Strawbs. Incredible, amazing, breath-taking. Awe-inspiring.

    But I've talked about them many times. This time I want to talk about Oliver.

    As Judi said, the band gets better, stronger, more powerful after every performance. Oliver, however, gets better by quantum leaps!

    "Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth?" started with the great riff by Mr. Lambert, then they played the song. Then Oliver did his solo. I had the pleasure of sitting almost directly in front of him, and I could barely see his fingers as they moved like lightning across the keys! You know, it's hard not to feel jaded about music after you've been watching it as intently as I have over the years. But as I watched Oliver play tonight, I felt the old excitement come over me again! I know it's somewhat of an overused phrase, but I was blown away! As Judi said, seat belts are not a bad idea when watching him blaze his way through the music.

    But really, when it comes down to it, why are we Strawbs fans in the first place? Why do we go through so much effort to see a band play the same songs over and over again? It's because after so many years, the Strawbs have never lost their relevance. My dear sister Kathy commented that Mr. Cousins seems to be a bit morbid these days, what with the song selection and his descriptions of the tragic events occurring in the world today. However, I think it's more true to say that the Strawbs music is just as relevant today as it was when they wrote them. Sadly so, in many cases.

    Yet take the song "Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth?". How many of us had dreams of great things when we were younger? And how many of those were centred around artistic endeavours? I know I continue to struggle to get my writing published, and I know Bob writes some really incredible lyrics and songs few people besides his closest family and freinds have seen or heard. At our age, the odds of us achieving anything even remorely close to success is a pipedream at best. But for us, the dream will only die when we do. I'm reminded of that line from the Beatles' classic "Eleanor Rigby" - "writing the words to a sermon that no one will hear..." Still, we struggle on, because the art is not in success, but in the doing.

    So it is with the Strawbs. They are artists in the truest sense of the word. Behind the humour and the incredibly talented and entertaining performances beats the heart of an artist. And while the others bring so much to the band, that artist is Dave Cousins. The fact that he could write songs from forty years ago and still have it bring tears to my eyes today is monumental proof of his power. He is a shining light to us; a beacon, if you will. He touches us mind, body and soul with every song, with every performance. And will continue to do so for the rest of his days.

    And that is where the dream of our youth is.

    THE BEST SO FAR - Comments from Judi Cuervo

    Since I saw our beloved Doug at Oakville, I'll let him do the review. What I will say is that this was THE best so far--and I thought nothing could beat Belleville! This was perfection! A lovely performing arts center with incredible sound. Doug agreed that it was even better than Hugh's Room.

    And I'd also like to add that with each performance, Oliver just gets more and more incredible. WOW! The crowd went crazy with "Where Is This Dream."

    Another thing I heard about Toronto: when Oliver was going off the stage, someone in the audience said to him "Rick WHO???"

    I'm SO jealous of the U.K. folks! Everyone is at their best!!!


    It's interesting to read the current reviews of the Oakville performance, and try to figure out where in the auditorium the writers were to relate it to your own experience. I would also suggest that it's the case with any die-hard rabid fan, who would travel for hours to see their heroes, the glitches tend to be overlooked.

    I've enjoyed Strawbs music for years now, having last seen them many moons ago in Newcastle in the early 70's. The ticket to the Oakville show was a birthday request, and at the interval my partner, who was totally unfamiliar with Strawbs music, did comment it must be tough living with someone who comes across as morbid and depressive as Dave Cousins does, lol.

    But to the performance. The venue was small, cozy, and wonderfully intimate, with an incredible view from any seat of the performers - no need for binoculars in this place. As with any band who have been around since the heydays of the late 60's and early 70's the hardest thing must be to decide on the song set for a 2 hour show from the many hours of available music - and the song set for this show was a great selection from what was, for me, probably the band's heyday period. Personally I was hoping the final encore song would be "Benedictus" - not only a great "thank you for coming, goodnight and god bless" style of song, but to me this would have helped end the show on a positive and upbeat note to the overarching theme of doom that Dave Cousins had been visiting all evening. But we all have personal preferences.

    The biggest disappointment, and it was a biggie, was the sound set up. Strawbs music has lots of subtle and clever nuances to it, and the sound setup was way too cranked and intense to fully showcase this for the size of the venue. If you weren't familiar with the song lyrics making out what they were was virtually impossible - even in the quieter timeless classic "The Hangman And The Papist". And the frenzied and unique vocal gymnastics of Dave Cousins in the "Sheep" choruses were virtually totally lost in a frenzy of what came out as schreeching, clashing sound. It also resulted in some of the creative guitar work of Dave Lambert not coming thorugh cleanly. Perhaps the guy doing the sound set up had spend too much time in their youth with the "dustbin Koss speakers" turned up too loud!!

    Despite a poor sound mix, the show itself was truly amazing - and my neophyte partner was completely taken in with the melody shifts, and especially the incredible keyboard playing of Oliver Wakeman. What a musical talent to have been fortunate enough to watch perform. The concert itself was, for me, a genuine throwback to something you rarely get the chance to see today - a full blown 70's style rock concert, with keyboard and drum solos, and what is usually a 5 minute long song being stretched and improvised and mixed to a much longer performance. Kids today really have no clue on what a concert truly can be, and no need for gaudy light shows or distracting pyrotechnics - just let the melodies and lyrics speak for themselves. And in a couple of the songs, while you knew by looking there were only 5 guys out on stage, the skilled performace and abilities of Wakeman on a synthesizer was such that if you closed your eyes you would swear there was at least a 20 piece orchestra in the hall playing with them. Truly, truly amazing keyboard talent. And talking of drum solos - when was the last time you saw a drum solo start off with HAND DRUMMING???? And to get into the increasingly frenzied performance after almost 1 1/2 hours of drumming through all that had gone before? Talent, not to mention incredible stamina (and for a guy that needed to have his pacemaker battery recharged at the interval).

    Sound issues aside, this was an amazing, amazing show from an incredibly gifted set of performers, with songs interestingly displaying the same sharp relevance today as they did when originally conceived and written all those years ago. And the 2 cuts of the new album didn't seem in the least out of place to the rest of the set. The appreciation of the audience was pretty apparent as I don't recall too many, if any, concerts over the years where standing ovations were randomly occurring to songs THROUGHOUT the performance.

    As for the Strawbs neophyte - sound issues aside, she was totally taken by the the musical abilities of all the performers, the intriguing melody shifts within a song, and the keyboard playing of Wakeman. While perhaps not musically familiar, for her to the concert style was a trip down memory lane to a less frenzied time in life, and a thoroughly enjoyed experience.


    I am just reading the Strawbsweb reviews, and reliving the wonderful shows I have seen for the tour, from Montréal to Oakville. So wonderful to have Strawbs back to Canada! I am puzzled however by W. Stokeld who wrote that he or she thought the sound was a problem at the Oakville show? I have seen many many concerts, of those more than a dozen are Strawbs, and over twenty are Strawbs or others at the Oakville Centre. This the most recent Strawbs show at Oakville, it was superlative for sound, every instrument's nuances so clear, and the overall sound so powerful and exciting! Maybe the best of all shows at this place. W.Stokeld says that he/she couldn't understand the words? I am from Quebec, I speak only French at home and still I understand the English perfectly at this show, I can sing along if I had the good voice ;).

    Compliments to Michel Parent for the wonderful photos from Montréal!

    And lastly a comment about young Oliver Wakeman, what a presence and a star! Soon nobody will say "Rick Wakeman's son", you will be able to say only "Oliver" and everyone will know of whom you speak.

    Thank you Strawbs for coming, we hope we will see you again soon.


    Oakville will have to go down as one of the finest performances by the band, in recent history, anyway. I have managed to see some truly great performances, but Oakville surpassed them all. I've no idea what it was. The venue was perfect. The sound was extremely good, the audience was loud and vocal in their appreciation. The atmosphere was electric.

    I have not the words to describe what I saw, but one of the things Doug mentioned about their continuing relevance truly struck a chord.

    "The Hangman And The Papist" was truly magnificent. I'm not sure if it was because of last weeks events, but there was extra passion, not only in Dave's singing, but in the playing of the rest of the band. They didn't just play...they were inspired. They played as if the song could really change the world. At the end, tears were streaming down my wife's face, and she's heard the song at least once on every tour through the Toronto area for the last 6 years, but she's never been affected like she was in Oakville.

    I bought The Broken Hearted Bride at the intermission, and was later struck by "The Call To Action". I listened to the CD last night in the car, and played "The Call To Action" three times in a row...amazing, but it now has more power to move me because of Oakville.

    When we left, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that they had witnessed something truly remarkable.

    As Judi mentioned, there was a "take photographs and die a horrible death with much bloating of your maggot ridden corpse" edict in effect, but I made sure I didn't use the flash, and since I was using one of my digital SLRs, I always used the viewfinder, so the bright screen on the back didn't bother anyone, either. So, for your viewing pleasure, please feel free to visit

    Photo by Roger Hill - more pictures from Roger off Strawbsweb

    See alaso Dave Ferrisey's review above.


    Comments from Ian Stewart

    It's 12:02am and I just got in from Hamilton. Great show as usual,Wakeman and "Where Is This Dream.." were worth the price of admission on their own. One slight error occurred right at the start when DL started "Lay Down" by himself, after that the night was flawless.

    Met Dorie and Judi as I was walking in.They are a little tired after their week long trek across southern Ontario. No band had better groupies. "Where Is This Dream" with Oliver on the keys and the whole new arrangment needs to be recorded. It's a great finale, I am glad to see "We'll Meet Again.." put to pasture.

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