Lindisfarne Concert

Jersey, "Channel Islands" - Tuesday, 16th April 2002

by Stuart Paul Mills

First up, a confession. Whilst a big fan of Lindisfarne in the late 70’s, seeing them 3 times, and also being a huge Jack The Lad fan, I had never seen or heard the new Lindisfarne line up… so I was in for a big shock. 

The venue was a bit of an odd place. A converted church, where the band were set up at the front, where the pulpit should have been - the stained glass windows had been covered over! Chairs were placed in rows in the auditorium, where the pews should have been, and a balcony all the way around, empty, save for the odd sniper hiding in the shadows. 

The Band played two sets, each of about an hour, with a 20 minute break. Mitchell announced at the end of the first set “Right, we’re off into the vestry to swot up on the old testament, we’ll be back in 20 minutes”

The Band had opened with “This guitar never lies” and I was immediately confused. Having only ever having seen Rod Clements play bass or fiddle before, he was suddenly up front giving it loads as a slide guitarist. The sound was crisp, and the musicianship tight. It reminded me of “Why can’t I be satisfied” and immediately gave me a good feeling about the gig ahead.

There were plenty of nods back to the earlier material, “All fall down”, “Road to Kingdom come” and more obscurely “No time to lose”, and a tribute to Hully with “Passing Ghosts” There was also a stonking version of “Meet me on the Corner” and the predictable “Fog on the Tyne

I was really taken with the sound that the band now produce, much crisper than the distant days of the late 70’s, and the slide and lead playing from Clements was a revelation. The rhythm section of Laidlaw & Thomson was solid and dependable. Mitchell’s stage presence was well assured. He joked and bantered all night, producing some laughs and guffaws along the way, and his stature as lead vocal and all round front man was admirable and well received.

A further shock for this author was the voice of Dave Denholm. I had read of this earlier, but nothing had prepared me for his rendition of Alan Hull’s “One World”. The resonance of his voice as it reverberated around this old church-like structure was simply ghostly. My guess was that there were few people in the audience that knew the song, but anyone that knew of Alan Hull’s voice would have been moved almost to tears from Denholm’s performance. It’s clear that the band themselves are still touched by this inclusion on the set list, even towards the end of a long tour.

So to the new material. There were plenty of plugs for the new album. “This too will pass”, “Under the Promenade” , “Unfinished Business” and a further shock, with Clements taking lead vocal on “Significant Other” and “Freedom Square” – that’s right!

There were many other high points and surprises for me along the way; Denholm’s 12 string which sounded fabulous, Mitchell’s occasional use of harmonica, (wisely underplayed when one thinks back to the old Jacka 25 minute interludes!), the acoustic session where Mitchell and Clements clear the rest of the stage “Nice to get rid of that drummer, “ Mitchell commented, “he makes such a racket” with “Walking back to Blueberry Hill” notable.

So we’d had our money’s worth, and they even came back for an encore, and we were treated to “Lady Eleanor”, “Clear White Light” and “Run for Home”…. And again, Denholm pops up at the end with another “Hully apparition” and sings the final few lines that end “Heard the noise that destroys and commands”

The crowd loved it, and a good time was had by all. But it didn’t end there. It was an intimate setting, and the band came down to the front to sign autographs. Well, you know, I had to do it, and shake their hands to thank them for the show. My only disappointment was that with 3 of the original 4 members of Jack the Lad on stage, they might have slipped “Fast Lane Driver” into the set list, but you can’t have everything I suppose!