reviewed by Martyn Gaunt
Matlock Bath is a one of the more spectacular settings I've been to for a Lindisfarne gig. A deep gorge formed where the River Derwent cuts its way through the underlying Derbyshire stone, with buildings clinging precariously to the steep wooded hillsides. And right at the bottom of the hill is the Fishponds pub. The sort of venue for which the word "intimate" was probably coined, and the first stop in an extended weekend of shows for the band.
We got there early, as we knew it was a "standing" show, and we wanted to get a good view. This proved a good tactic, as eventually approximately 200 people managed to squeeze into a room which would have been comfortable with about half that number. All this on a hot, humid summer's evening - good for beer sales I suspect. However, with the band playing at floor level at one end of the room, it really paid to be an early arrival, I suspect those at the back didn't see much of anyone except Ray for most of the night.
The lads were well on form, starting with the current set opener "When Jones Gets Back In Town", followed by "Why Can't I Be Satisfied?". And the crowd was a good one, too, getting into the music early, and (a rarity in these days of (usually) theatre shows) right from the off, there was a whole lot of dancin' going on, as Jerry Lee might have said if he had had the sense to attend. Billy's invitation to create some elbowroom for "Two Way Street" towards the end of the first set was really needed, as some serious audience enthusiasm was well evident at this point. The band closed out the first set with "Statues and Liberties"; probably the highlight of the current set for me. Dave's vitriolic vocals, Rod's stinging guitar and the controlled anger to remind us that this band is not just about having a good time, it can make pertinent social comment as well. I saw the Clash in 1977, and I reckon even they would have been hard pressed to make such a powerful statement.
The halftime interval was just about long enough to allow most of the perspiration to evaporate from my shirt, and the second half started with Dave and Ian doing their usual wonderful moving interpretation of "Winter Song", which brings me to my only real gripe about the evening. Why do people, having shelled out £12 for a ticket, then spend most of their time talking away at the back while the band is on? After all, you could stay downstairs in the bar and do that for free, thus 1) saving yourselves some cash, and 2) letting the rest of us actually hear Alan's masterpiece being sung. OK, 'nuff said, I'll put my soapbox away now
Highlight of the second half was a brand new song from Rod. Those of us fortunate enough to have been at the "Maggie" the previous evening had heard the first English (as opposed to Welsh) performance of "Significant Other", but this was the first time most of the audience had heard this song. As Rod sang this one solo with the Dobro, the rest of the band sat on the drum riser to listen, and from the expressions on some faces during and after its performance (stand up, DHD!) it looked like it was new to most of them too. However, we all seemed to enjoy it a lot - just hope it makes it onto the new album.
Then it was a triumphant finish with more Rod slide magic on "Road To Kingdom Come", and an enthusiastic singalong to "Run For Home". The clapping and shouting for more might have dislodged some Derbyshire boulders from the cliffs over the town, but the lads came back just in time for "Devil Of The North" and "Fog On The Tyne". And yet more friends were made, especially so when all five guys climbed up ontothe drum riser to take a bow, thus ensuring that everyone in the room got a sight of them at last!
Now, roll on South Shields!
(Big thanks to the ever helpful Woody for the set list. You're a gent - and there's not many of us left!)