Lindisfarne Concert

Burton upon Trent, Brewhouse Arts - Thursday, 18th October 2001

by Geoff Styche

"Daisy Days"

 Brewhouse Arts is a splendid venue (and not just because it's a mere 25 minutes' drive from our home in Leicestershire!). Situated in central Burton, it's easy to locate and it has a vast, well-lit, free car park right on its doorstep. The building is what it says it is: an old brewhouse which has been imaginatively converted into a multi-facility arts centre. The auditorium is about the size of a school hall, providing a neat balance between audience capacity and intimacy.

A brief word with Ray before the gig confirmed that, with Dave at home with Francesca and their newest family member, Daisy, tonight's concert was going to be a bit different. And so it turned out to be.

The lads bowled onto stage promptly at eight and Billy immediately explained Dave's absence by announcing Daisy's arrival earlier in the day, to a chorus of "oohs" and "aaahs" from the audience. He offered the couple everybody's congratulations on the birth of the late Alan's granddaughter and, added Billy, tonight was going to be a celebration.

Without further ado the band launched into All Fall Down, followed in quick succession by Walk a Crooked Mile and Court in the Act. They were working hard to compensate for being one guitarist short - and it was paying off. The rhythm was tight and the sound was full. A couple of numbers from 'Neighbourhood' came next, a great Ghost in Blue Suede Shoes and Billy's bouncing Born at the Right Time. Rod's slide work was, as ever, slick and the timbre of Billy's voice was, as ever, rich.
Then came a work-out for a pair of new album possibles. Back to Blueberry Hill was a yearning for the good old days when telly was black and white and the show wasn't over until the fat man sang. Curiously the following number, Remember Tomorrow, was a firm expression of the view that looking back was not at all where this singer was at! Lady E. was dedicated to a certain young lady in the audience who happened to be celebrating her 13th birthday. Her name? Yep, that's right.

Rod took over his absent friend's solo spot, giving us a cracking rendition of his own Stamping Ground. Well, I thought it was cracking; Billy didn't seem so sure. When the band returned to the stage he was clearly seen to mutter the accolade "average" from the corner of his mouth as he walked past the grinning Rod. There followed a lovely rendition of Passing Ghosts and then Billy seeking answers on a postcard as to Why Can't I Be Satisfied? The first session was wound up with a communal performance of Meet Me on the Corner and all present were obviously having a great time.

The band re-opened after the break with No Time to Lose and then followed the most poignant few minutes of the concert with Rod's Refugees, so tragic in its timeliness. The mood lightened a little with another outing for Significant Others - a further possible for the new album? Next in succession came Roll on That Day and Together Forever before the plaintive Can't Do Right for Doing Wrong had one or two couples in the audience embracing each other in a manner I suspect they hadn't done for years.

By now the lads were on storming form, both Rod and Billy putting in Trojan-like effort to make up for the missing guitar, Ray providing a solid backbone of beat and Ian making his fiendishly accomplished bass-playing look deceptively easy. A stunning Old Peculiar Feeling, followed by a driving Working My Way Back Home left an absolutely blistering version of Road to Kingdom Come to complete the crescendo before the mood softened a little with Any Way the Wind Blows.

The band left the stage to tumultuous applause after a Fog on the Tyne during which Billy refused point blank to provide a practice verse for the singalong, saying "If you don't know it by now, then b------s to you!". Loud and long appeals for an encore brought the fab four back for a final, ear-splitting Devil of the North.

After the concert Billy suggested to me that the lads had been a little apprehensive when they first took the stage, unsure exactly how the revised arrangements would work out. If so, then it certainly didn't show. All I saw in their faces was sustained concentration on their unfamiliar instrumental and vocal roles. Rod's post-gig confirmation that Billy's omission of a harp break in one number was as inadvertent as was his own muffed lyric in another was an indication of quite how intense that concentration was. But these were two tiny (even humorous) blemishes on an otherwise polished and energetic performance. This was a versatile and adaptable team of professionals, clearly enjoying their night's work and, as usual, firmly intent on giving only the very best value for money. After such a strenuous evening the lads could have been forgiven for wanting to get straight back to their hotel rooms but, no, they happily joined members of the audience in the bar for a friendly chat and a drink.

Rod and Billy may well have found themselves nursing blistered fingers the following morning but it is unlikely that any of the band woke up nursing hangovers. By the time the gig had finished the licensed bar had actually run out of draught bitter. Within minutes all the lager pumps had also dried up and, shortly thereafter, the last few drops of Guinness were sold. Thus the bar was completely dry before closing time. Think about that. The Brewhouse bar in Burton upon Trent - the beer production capital of the Midlands - had run dry! Strange things happen at Lindisfarne concerts.

Geoff Styche