"Barn at the Right Time*"

First half: Jones / Why Can't / 100 Miles / Walk / Born / Meet / Working / Two Way / Statues
Second half: No Time / Unmarked / Lady / Significant / One day / Jubilee / Road / Run
Encores: Devil / Fog

We've seen the band play some unusual venues down the years and this one rates high on the list marked 'strange'. It was the direction signs that gave the first indication (in more ways than one), that this was not going to be your average gig; having found the village of Little Missenden, a carefully hand-written sign saying 'Lindisfarne' took us sharply off the high street down a narrow road towards Town Farm, a second turned us through the farm gates while the third marked 'parking' brought us into a field where the grass had been cropped to a height of only three feet.

In front of us was a large barn from where drifted the sound of a drum-heavy version of the Stealers Wheel classic 'Stuck in the Middle with You' - the support band were running through their sound check. This, as David Byrne once said, must be the place. Having emerged through the long grass of the car park, we ran slap bang into the band who were heading off for a quick pre-gig pint. Apparently there was a problem with the van - they had crawled into Buckinghamshire at 20mph and with two more gigs still to come that weekend, a replacement was already on its way down from Newcastle. Julia and I wandered into the barn, found a hay bale near the stage and waited for the bar to open.

In the courtyard just outside the big double doors, a small trailer had been towed into position which, when opened, revealed a partly cooked pig on a huge spit - hmmm, pork and apple rolls, plus barrels of Shepherd Neame and Brakespears on the bar - things were undoubtedly looking up. By now the roofs of several more cars could be seen above the long grass and the hay bales were starting to fill up. Local support band 'The Shades', who all appeared to be in their late teens, took to the stage, led by Suzi in regulation rock-star red leather trousers. Their set consisted of all covers and from obvious sources - Beatles, Stones, Elvis, Doors, yet strangely Stealers Wheel didn't make the set - and well, let's just say they have youth and enthusiasm on their side. As they are unlikely to read this, I have three pieces of advice: one, write your own material; two, if you're going to play covers, add in a few less obvious songs and three, on no account ever let your bass player sing 'Hound Dog' again! There, another career salvaged (or should that be savaged?); good luck guys.

Above the stage hung an enormous hand-painted sign which read "Little Missenden Misfits Cricket Club welcomes Lindisfarne" - and at 9.23pm they did just that as the band eased their way into the set with 'When Jones gets back to town', 'Why Can't I be Satisfied', '100 Miles' and the welcome return of 'Walk a Crooked Mile' (why wasn't that song released as a single?). At this point I'm sure I saw Suzi pretending to bang her head against one of the large wooden posts supporting the barn roof, probably with the realisation of just how far her band have to go! *Billy introduced his own composition from 'Neighbourhood' as 'Barn at the Right Time', aptly re-titled for the evening, and when presented with the perfect headline for a review, how could I fail to use it (thanks Mitch)!

Overall, the set was chosen for a dancing crowd, 'Refugees' was just one of the slower numbers pencilled out at the last minute, but it certainly worked - when Billy told the crowd they could jive to 'Two Way Street' just like they did in the Fifties, several couples did just that - and it also became obvious that line-dancing is big in Little Missenden! Talking of dancers, one guy deserves special mention, not least for almost causing the total collapse of the band during 'Unmarked Car'. Our friend took to the floor dressed like an extra from Robin Hood or, as Mr Mitchell pointed out, from Gullivers Travels! When 'gulliver' moved into view, Dave totally lost it during his vocal, followed by most of the band and only sheer professionalism and a great deal of 'straight-facing' pulled them through. Full marks too, for our dancing master who continued to throw himself and various partners around with total abandon all evening.

Surprise of the night was a new song from Rod, titled 'Significant Others' and performed solo. Even on first hearing it's a cracking song, featuring some real cute lyrics and a chunky dobro rhythm, but will it turn up on the new band album or be held over until Rod's next solo work? I asked Ray this question after the gig, but he wasn't giving anything away; we'll just have to wait and see.

By the time the band left the stage after 'Run for Home' the barn was really rocking, with some great dancing, including Suzi and her chums grooving right down at the front and unusually good crowd singing - for the first time in a long while, I heard the audience take over on the line "I'm alright here in your arms" at the end of 'Lady E.' - which is always a good sign. Julia tried to capture the manic atmosphere on film, but her trusty Zenith E finally gave up the ghost, after many years on the road. All in all, though, Missenden proved to be an excellent gig - I'm sure the Misfits Cricket Club raised the required funds and that the new tour bus turned up on time - I just hope it didn't follow those parking signs!

Chris Groom