Trio in the pub:
Magnesia Bank, North Shields - Sat 6th July 02
Band in the sun:
Cookson Festival, Bents Park, South Shields - 7th July 02
by Derek Walmsley- Photos by Charles Orr
Beer and Curry: The North and South of Lindisfarne
The first weekend in July ushered in a unique chance to experience two varieties of Lindisfarne on home ground both north and south of the Tyne. At North Shields, home of good beers, a crowded pub gig by the Acoustic trio was preserved on tape ready for their American tour in August. At South Shields, home of good curry houses, an open-air full band set in the park was enjoyed from the comfort of deck chairs.
Upstairs in the Magnesia Bank, the room normally used for the band’s rehearsals was now the venue for a sitting-down live recording of 20 songs by Billy, Rod and Dave. A nervous Billy asked the fans for their help as this was “the last chance to record without Laidlaw’s knocking and banging!” Ian Thomson’s new baby daughter Eliza had finally arrived and the Acoustic era was drawing to a close. However, a blues band downstairs was providing sonic competition. Careful scheduling was required to ensure there wasn’t still more knocking and banging to remove at the mixing stage.
A late start for the blues band and a lengthy Lindisfarne interval sorted most of those technical problems. Even so, Billy said there was a danger the second set would have to be recorded at 78 r.p.m! The 100-strong capacity Maggie Bank crowd was given an additional incentive; the resultant CD would be popping through their letterboxes free of charge in early August.
A similar set list to Worthen saw the band gradually relax as the opening numbers “Working My Way Back Home”, “When Jones Gets Back To Town” and “Refugees” led to Dave’s spine-tingling rendition of “This Too Will Pass”. Billy said the technically difficult “Freedom Square” not only required two capos on Dave’s guitar but also badly needed a drummer “to hold the second harmonica.” The tuneful “Neighbourhood” ballad “Can’t Do Right For Doing Wrong” was added to the Worthen first half set. This welcome return of Billy’s G.P.’s favourite track was dedicated to her in the hope of an examination! After Rod and Billy’s “Sundown Station”, the impact of time on our lives was examined by the last three numbers of the half- “Remember Tomorrow”, “Happy Birthday Dad” and “Born At The Right Time”.
Rod and Billy set off the second half nicely with the intricate and contrasting “Walking Back to Blueberry Hill” and “Roll On That Day”. The rapturous applause that followed Dave’s version of “One World” acknowledged the band’s debt to James Alan Hull. Rod’s “Significant Other” was followed by a tale about the ex-landlord of the White Bear, Masham and the tribute to his beer, “Old Peculier Feeling”. Billy then continued the rural theme from Worthen, introducing the “Goat in Blue Suede Shoes”. The Jack The Lad song Lindisfarne “could and should have recorded” in the early days “Why Can’t I Be Satisfied” seemed improved from Worthen as the three worked to a climax worthy of the bass’n’drums version.
After “Meet Me On The Corner”, we had to pretend the lads had left the stage for an encore which this time consisted of “January Song” and “Road To Kingdom Come”. “No Time To Lose” and the other hits would have to wait until the following day. With the pub gig over and the recording in the bag it was time to catch the last Metro to Newcastle, contemplating how many other bands would be generous enough to give away a free CD to their audience!
A surprise for early afternoon arrivals the next day at the Cookson Festival, Bents Park, South Shields was Leigh Proud on stage warming up the audience. Although he was only accompanied by backing tracks, his distinctive singing and stage presence brought back memories of October 1994. Then, the group “Campfire”, including Leigh, Steve Cunningham and Dave Denholm, supported Lindisfarne at Workington’s Carnegie Theatre. A CD “The Proud Ones- Over Here, Over There” featuring Proud and Cunningham appeared in 1997. It would be interesting to learn of Leigh’s current songwriting and performing activities; I have just discovered he also sang to World Cup crowds at the Newcastle BBC Music Live event on 1st June.
Following on from Leigh, local band Snake Oil proved effective curtain raisers including covers such as Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released”. At 3.10 p.m. the lads finally took the stage. They stormed into a great version of the “Promenade” opener “This Guitar Never Lies”, the start of a magnificent 15-song set of over an hour in length. When the sun appeared it was blisteringly hot and Billy noted “you lot are lounging around in deck chairs while we do all the work. I suppose it makes a change from the garden!”. Rod’s “Amigos” ballad “Anyway The Wind Blows” was followed by full band renditions of “This Too Will Pass”, “Significant Other” and “Born At The Right Time”, all heard in a different setting the previous evening. Dave took vocals on Ian’s superb “Under The Promenade” and then Billy treated us to his Fats Domino tribute.
Billy’s after-song comment, “That was “Walking Back To Blueberry Hill”. This isn’t”, introduced “Lady Eleanor” and a string of crowd-pleasing classics. A blistering “No Time To Lose” set the mood for “Road To Kingdom Come” and “Meet Me On The Corner”. Sandwiched between the hits, the “Promenade” rocker “Rock ‘n’ Roll Phone” went down a storm and by the time “Run For Home” began, the crowd were in full voice. “Fog On The Tyne” was welcomed vociferously and ended the set appropriately. The icing on the cake, an encore of “Clear White Light”, emphasised just why this is still the North-East’s favourite band.
They don’t make weekends like that anymore. As the Metro rolled westwards out of South Shields, I was still on a high. A world-class band, two gigs showcasing their versatility and the great company of Lindisfarne fans from the length and breadth of the country. Looking forward to the freebie Acoustic CD, then roll on the Autumn tour!
Derek Walmsley 10/7/2002