Lindisfarne Concert 

Ripon Cathedral - Saturday, 8th July 2000

by "Elephant Man"

This was always going to be a landmark gig – not only because Lindisfarne were to play in England’s oldest cathedral but mainly because this was their first gig for 18 years without the charismatic Marty Craggs, their most recent front man. Speaking with Ray Laidlaw prior to the gig he said ‘Lindisfarne has always been bigger than one person’ which of course has been proved, sadly, many times over the years.

The gig was the highlight of Ripon’s Medieval Carnival weekend and the stage was set-up in the Nave Altar of this old and beautiful building with it’s hallowed stones bearing witness to much of our island’s history. However this was the first time in it’s 1300 years that Ripon Cathedral was host to a rock band – and the lads certainly drew in the crowds. The gig was a sell-out with all of the 700 pews filled with expectant punters.

The band opened with Alan Hull’s ‘No Time to Lose’ which got the crowds to their feet instantly. Unfortunately the acoustics within the cathedral were designed for choirboys and not rock bands so the crowd had to move forward to avoid the echoes. Billy Mitchell may sing like an angel but at the back of the Nave he sounded more like a Hell’s Angel (if that’s not blasphemy!). The sound guys were doing their best but they were really up against it – however it seemed to make little difference to the Lindisfarne die-hard. They were treated to a good mix of material including Rod Clements’ ‘Refugees’ which I must say sounded a little strange without the usual flute and it was great to hear ‘Walk a Crooked Mile’ back in the set after a 2 year rest. The first set finished with Billy Mitchell’s ‘Born at the Right Time’ which sounded as good as it ever did when they were a 6-piece.

The second set began with Rod & Dave’s ‘Unmarked Car’ followed by ‘Jubilee Corner’ and ‘Lady Eleanor’ – which again sounded light without the haunting flute. Dave & Ian treated us to their always wonderful ‘Winter Song’, the last verse of which sounded more poignant than ever in these surroundings and then we were honoured with another Alan Hull classic that has been ‘resting’ for a couple of years, ‘Log on Your Fire’. They rounded off the set with the usual favourites, finishing with a very different version of ‘Clear White Light’ with guitars filling in for some of the harmonies.

Well this was a difficult gig to review considering the acoustic problems so what did they really sound like without Marty? Sorry Marty, love you to bits, but the lads did good – they sound more like they used to and it was good to see Rod back on the fiddle (if you know what I mean). Interestingly though there were a number of fans wearing ‘Marty Craggs’ T-shirts so I guess he will be missed for some time yet – particularly amongst the female following – who will they drool over now I wonder? From talking to the fans, Dave Denholm is the hot favourite - although I have inside information that some of the crew are a big hit with the ladies!

As Ray has so often said, the band will continue and long may they do so. They are back on tour from October 26 for 6 weeks so pencil at least one date in your diaries - Lindisfarne are here to stay.

        "Elephant Man" (Wendy)