Lindisfarne Concert

Macclesfield, Bar Cuba - Friday, 19th October 2001

by Steve Yarwood

Lindisfarne have played some odd venues over the years, so it was with the usual open mind that I headed for Bar Cuba in Macclesfield on a wet Friday night.

Amazingly the club's website managed to provide all the necessaries as regards directions etc., and made a great play about the acoustics "This is the best P.A. in the north of England" and so on, so I was rather looking forward to all this, and hoping to see a few old friends and make some new ones too.

The directions got me there no problem, and the first thing I spotted was something of a lack of advertising about the gig - Bob Geldof is there later in the month and that seemed to be what they wanted to shout about. The gig was scheduled to start at 8 pm, so sayeth the ticket anyway, so I was a little surprised to arrive at 7.40 with the doors locked, not many lights on, no fans anywhere, and the band just arriving and piling into the next door Italian restaurant. A quick penne arrabiata perhaps? Never mind, there was a good free car pack just outside the door, so that was one problem solved. 

By 8.00 there was a bit of a queue but no sign of the doors opening, but never mind, at 8.15 we were let in to the venue, which was, well, just odd really - very small and intimate, with the stage at one end, then a few feet back sat the bar, so the audience area was kind of L- shaped, with limited views of the stage. I suppose it would hold about 300 ok, though the website says "The capacity is 350 for live gigs and provides a cool and artist-friendly environment." - not sure how many of the 350 would be looking at the bar rather than the stage though, see the attached picture. Dominating the stage and the whole venue was a vast picture of Che Guavara looking down surreally in much the same way as Jocky Wilson looked down on Dexy's on TOTP. The great thing was of course that this was an all-standing club, not been to see the boys for ages and been able to stand throughout, I far prefer it that way.

The first drink consumed, I strolled to the bar for a refill and was informed a 9.30 start was scheduled. This was the point where I regretted my decision not to stay overnight, with all this waiting, copious quantities of alcohol would have been good. Never mind, there were lots of us facing the same delay and the venue did begin to fill - there were probably 180 or so by the end, I guess.

Looking at the arrangement of the venue it was clear that the place to be was up the front, pressed against the barrier. Only 4 microphones though, I'd picked up that DHD would be absent but hadn't heard the news - so luckily next to me were some who were more in the know and who told me about Daisy. Well done! Anyway with so much time before the show it gave me the chance to get chatting, and it was great to make some new friends in Helen & Matt & their Lindisvirgin friends Carl and Mike. Helen is a serious Lindisnutter, and the great thing about this gig was that there were a lot of "Sue and Annie's" around who knew every word of (nearly) every song, and the intimacy of the venue made it all the more acceptable to sing our hearts out. Great.

Eventually the band appeared and DHD's absence was probably just as well since they'd never all have fitted on the stage. Although it was a shame that DHD wasn't there, the real positive that this gig (and its other cousins this week) were very unusual in terms of arrangements, vocals, and the songs covered. So it felt a much more special experience somehow than the "regular" schedule would have delivered. I won't go into depth about every song, as the running order was the same as the Burton-on-Trent gig the night before (as Helen and Matt kept on telling me!) and Geoff Styche has eloquently reviewed that event already. Billy made the odd reference to the cock-ups from the previous night, like forgetting his harmonica solos, and there did seem to be a delicious amount of improvisation going on - I know the set was the same as Burton, but a lot of it seemed "seat-of-the-pants" stuff and exciting in consequence. Billy seemed to forget the words to Fog on the Tyne, but I'm not sure whether that was playacting. I loved the Billy and Rod duet of Together Forever. Ray seemed to sit out a few more songs than usual, but was visible at the side downing his pint and watching the audience reactions to the new songs with interest. It'd be interesting to know how it is thought the songs have been received. As with any new song in the middle of a bunch of others that have been heard a thousand times, the reaction is at the same time both attentive and subdued, but form what I heard the new album will be excellent, with Significant Other so far grabbing my attention most. 

The main unrehearsed item was with "the best P.A. in the north of England" which threw a wobbler towards the end of the first half and led to an early break and a longer second half. I think the band was not all that impressed with Bar Cuba, they'd rather have used their own gear. From where I stood, at the front, the view and sound were great, but I imagine it wasn't like that throughout the venue. 

The band finally came off stage around midnight, with me still regretting that I was driving and that I'd taken up the offer of a spare bed earlier in the evening. 
     Ah well, next time!