Billy Mitchell Solo Gig

The Rockingham Arms, Wentworth, South Yorkshire

Friday, 1st December 2000

by Martyn Gaunt

Long May You Run
Rockin' Chair
Log On Your Fire
Sundown Station
Sweet Baby James
Ghost In Blue Suede Shoes
Wild World

No Reply
Walk Right Back
Can't Do Right For Doing Wrong
Born At The Right Time
Drift Away
Wokin' The Dog
Forever Young
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Games People Play
Meet Me On The Corner

A last minute decision meant we spent our Friday evening on a 150 mile round trip to the Rockingham Arms at Wentworth to see Billy Mitchell's solo show. Our first visit to "The Rock", but obviously not Billy's - I think the band may have stayed there more than once! Armed with insider information from the landlord (whose name has embarrassingly slipped my mind for the moment - sorry, mate!) I'm off down to Ladbrokes to see what odds I can get on the various horses in the "Who Gets Down to Breakfast First" Stakes, on the next tour!

Very pleasant venue, stone built village pub with a function room in a converted barn and stables at the rear - the horse stalls were still in place, really atmospheric! About 70 or 80 people were enough to give the place something of an atmosphere, without feeling unduly crowded.

Armed with his Takemine dreadnought, the blue Washburn loan guitar (!) and a brace of harmonicas (but, disappointingly for the masochistically inclined among us, no banjo!) the wee man gave us two sets, consisting of a very wide and varied selection of material by such worthies as Neil Young, Carole King, Mike Nesmith, Ray Davies and Robbie Robertson - spine tingling version of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" in the second half. Also, plenty of songs that we might more normally associate with Billy - it was nice to hear "Sundown Station" again, as it is currently on a bit of a holiday from the Lindisfarne live set.

Songs from the "Neighbourhood" album included "Can't do Right" and "Born at the Right Time". A great rendition of "Rocking Chair" took me back more years than I care to think about, to when a terrific live band called Jack the Lad used to make cold wet Thursday evenings in the Winter Gardens, Cleethorpes, great fun for a certain hairy student. The song being inspired by Billy's grandad, this led to a story concerning the said gentleman and the aftermath of a game of dominoes in a pub - don't ask! "Games People Play" was another song which showcased Billy's very real (and under-appreciated) talent as an interpreter of material - and just a little bit of politics creeping in there in the chat! Very sincere and appreciative applause concluded the set, and brought Billy back to give us another 2 songs, sending us happily off into the night with "Meet Me on the Corner".

Only spotted one "BT3" T-shirt in the audience. Now, maybe other Lindisfans were there, like me, undercover, but those who could have gone along but didn't really missed a chance to see another side of Billy as a performer and a person. A great venue, great songs, great performance, great guy - see you at the Processed Pea, mate!