The peace of a small Shropshire hamlet 15 miles west of Shrewsbury was shattered as Lindisfarne fans arrived from all corners of England and Wales. All three beds available in the Cock Inn were taken up and villagers were soon outnumbered by concert-goers. Alan of Real Music had sold all 150 laminated tickets for the big event in Worthen Village Hall and a special beer (aptly named Dreamseller) was on tap.
After a selection of piano accordian tunes by support act Harriet Bartlett, the historic occasion commenced. The Lindisfarne Acoustic Trio took their sitting positions for the first time in public, kicking off with “Working My Way Back Home”. It was clear as they launched into the first of seven songs from “Promenade”, “When Jones Gets Back to Town” that this Lindisfarne-lite guitar/mandolin/harmonica version of the band is effective in its own right. Dedicating the song to the Welsh contingent (i.e. the Harry family), the trio continued with “Refugees”, “This Too Will Pass” and “Freedom Square”. The next song performed just by Rod and Billy, “Sundown Station” (from Rod’s 1988 Bert Jansch collaboration “Leather Launderette”) was a regular feature of the 1996 “Untapped and Acoustic” tour. Its revival brought back fond memories of those first gigs.
We were then treated to two “Promenade” tracks generally left out of the main tour - the rousing “Remember Tomorrow” and Billy’s poignant “Happy Birthday Dad”. The first set finished on another high with “Born At The Right Time”, the interval being a chance to chat to fellow fanatics and sample more Dreamseller.
Rod and Billy started off the second half with “Going Back To Blueberry Hill” and “Roll On That Day” with Dave taking the spotlight for “One World”, the first Hully song of the evening! Next, “Significant Other” which Billy renamed “Significant Udder” to reflect the rural location. Rod namechecked Becks and Owen in the lyrics- very topical! Another old stalwart “Old Peculier Feeling” was followed by “Ghost In Blue Suede Shoes” and a moving “January Song” which had the audience joining in. It was good to hear “Why Can’t I Be Satisfied” although I missed Ray’s frantic drumming here. “Meet Me On The Corner” provided the expected crowd reaction, ending the second set effectively.
The encore of “Road To Kingdom Come” and “No Time To Lose” still left Worthen wanting more, even after 20 superbly performed songs. A second encore would have been great, especially as “Lindisfarne-lite” had been “Hits-lite”. There had been no “Lady Eleanor” (first time ever?), no “Run For Home” and no “Fog On The Tyne”. It could be that trio arrangements of these didn’t work out but it is proof of the new material’s merit that these were not seriously missed. However, one or two would have been nice!
Overall, I really enjoyed hearing these songs in a new “stripped down” light and know these feelings were shared by everyone I spoke to. A very satisfying night both musically and socially, the event also proving to be a re-union of a dozen Newcastle conventioneers. We now look forward to the Magnesia Bank, North Shields in three weeks’ time - the Lindisfarne Acoustic experience is well worth catching while it lasts.