Lindisfarne Concert

Reigate Priory Park, Reigate, Surrey - Friday, 26th July 2002

by Chris Groom

"A Priory engagement"
(Reigate's own party in the park)

Set: Working / When Jones / Refugees / This Too / Freedom / Remember / Born / Walking Back / Roll On / One World / Can't  Do Right / Significant / Old Peculiar / January / Why Can't I / Meet Me.

Encore: Road.

With any open air event there is always one question to be answered straight away - and in this case the weather was glorious. The setting wasn't too bad either, as this was prime stockbroker-belt land in the leafy Surrey countryside and we were in the park belonging to Reigate Priory, close to the town centre; although you wouldn't have known it, being completely cut-off from all roads by lush woodland.

We were also within a paintbrushes throw from my old art college, but I must admit that although I know the town well, I had never really explored the park before - partly because as students we rarely got past the pub at the end of nearby Blackborough Road! 

By early evening, a group of the Southern message board contingent had collected in front of the stage; Julia and I were joined by Mike Clayton, John and Pauline G. and Alison, plus the backpacking Bertil B. from northern Sweden. The rest of the audience were fascinating to watch, as the majority seemed to have brought half their kitchen with them - chairs, tables, rugs, wine coolers, proper glasses and even those garden lanterns that hang from what appears to be a cut-down sheep crook!

Extremely civilised - festival crowds have certainly changed over the years. Most of this lot, I imagine, had come to settle down and watch an evening of Irish dancing courtesy of the Celtic Feet dance troupe, who presented a two part show in true 'Riverdance' style. Personally I've got nothing against Irish dancers (in small doses) but preferably as an accompaniment to live music - in this case, all the music was on tape and the dancing alone struggled to sustain a whole evening. Actually, not all the music was taped - they brought with them one traditional singer who broke up the dancing to take the stage on his own and belt out singalong stuff like 'The Irish Rover'!

About eight twenty, the band took the stage and this being an acoustic gig, they put out three chairs for Dave, Billy and Rod - well, as the crowd were all sitting down, it seemed only fair. I thought the three-piece format worked really well, in fact some songs even benefited from the stripped down treatment, 'Jones' being a prime example. I have to say that I don't really miss the old stalwarts (songs, not band members!) - there was no Lady, no Fog, no Run for Home, but what you lose on the (We can) Swings you gain on the newer songs; with plenty on offer from both the Promenade and Neighbourhood albums, including 'Remember Tomorrow', the first time I had heard this sung live. Although the songs were arranged to make do without bass and drums, I did miss the way the rhythm section crunch in on the second verse of 'Born' and an acoustic 'One World' lacked the dynamics that the full band give it. More often, it was Dave's electric guitar that added swirls and washes of colour to fill out the sound while Rod and Billy added the detail.

They finished with the only real 'hit' on show tonight - and 'Meet me on the Corner' had everyone up out of their garden chairs and dancing to the front, where they stayed to cheer the band off (and then straight back on) for a well-deserved encore of 'Road to Kingdom Come'. Billy proclaimed the gig as "FAB" - and as usual he was right; with only a few days to their US tour, they're hitting top form - the Yanks are in for a real treat!

Any other business: Two anniversary's to record: Friday was John G's birthday (I won't give away his age) and as if the gig itself wasn't enough of a present, Pauline dragged him off for a celebratory meal as soon as the band had finished. Secondly, Reigate marked Julia's 100th Lindisfarne gig - a proud achievement which began way back in 1974, the same year, incidentally, that I joined Reigate art college. Well done Jules, but remember, I'm only five or six behind you!

Chris Groom