Lindisfarne Concert

Indianapolis, Indiana USA - Friday, 4th August 2002

by Steve Foster


Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - While the American good ol’ boys were rollin’ on rubber at the Speedway, the good ol’ boys from England were just rollin’ on at Ike & Jonesy’s in downtown Indy. 
It was 95°F and humid that Sunday, Aug. 4th. The big day of the Brickyard 400 NASCAR race. For my co-promoter Larry Cohen and myself, there was a bigger event afoot.

               Lindisfarne Acoustic was coming to town.

It was their first time in Indy, and our first time seeing them perform. As I walked out to see if there was a better spot I could save for the band’s van, I found it already there, and immediately recognized Rod and Dave standing beside it. Sparks had conveniently created a parking place directly across from the entrance to the club. The first words were, “Hello, David,” as I extended my hand. About that time my partner Larry came up, and introductions all around.

From that point on, the day and the night belonged to Lindisfarne. From Billy’s tee shirt, to Dave checking in on the wife and baby, to Rod and Billy’s history lesson. From the whereabouts of past members, to the deep feelings about Kenny and Alan. From breaking bread at an Irish pub to having to tell the boys they would have to use bar stools instead of their usual folding chairs due to the way the stage was constructed. (All three asked for seat belts, but after giving it a go, decided that they could make do with the stools.) From Dave’s veggie burger to the familiar strains of “Working My Way” during the sound check. (Here I was, singing under my breath while these guys played. Wow! Almost as good as the real thing.)

Oh, yeah, they played a concert, too. “Working My Way” got the crowd of nearly 100, the right number for the size of the club, into it right away. “Jones” and “Refugees” followed. Dave finally faced the audience (you gotta love him) with “This Too Will Pass,” and got the biggest applause up to that point. Strong words, strong delivery. Billy got some laughs with the whimsical, yet dark “Happy Birthday, Dad.” In fact, Billy and Rod elicited quite a few laughs from the folks there, a key element in winning over a skeptical crowd. We enjoyed watching Billy, who didn’t fit the bar stool so good, swinging his legs to the beat of “Freedom Square.” Then “Sundown,” and again with the legs for the last two songs of the first set, “Remember Tomorrow,” and “Born at the Right Time.”

The second set opened with “Blueberry Hill”. By this time Billy had utilized a road case for a footstool. The tribute to Alan might have been explained before Dave sang “One World”, as it may have gone over the heads of a largely unaware audience, but the song did not. Again, Dave got one of the biggest responses of the night. A comment by Billy about my own past musical history got a good laugh from those there that knew me, including myself. Then came “Ghost”. I had hoped that my short and anonymous career would not come down to being compared to an Elvis impersonator. During “Peculiar Feeling”, the obviously inebriated owner of the club decided to do some dancing. When the song ended, the owner proceeded to try to induce the lads to eat a White Castle hamburger (I won’t even try to explain what that is, other than to say that you probably don’t want one.) Rod got things back in gear with “Significant Other”. They finished with “Satisfied” and “Meet Me”. The audience awkwardly, but loudly, called for an encore, and was treated to “Road to Kingdom Come”, but that only.

There were some notable omissions. You can fill in the blanks as you see it. We didn’t want them to stay in the past, but they might have visited there a couple of more times. As we told Rod and Billy, we could have had them go on for another three hours or more, so we could never have gotten enough. What we got was great, and I believe that some new converts came into being that night. The comments we heard were many and all were positive. There was even genuine surprise for some that this group we dragged them out to see turned out to be really good. After-concert interest was high.

If you are an American and have an opportunity to see Lindisfarne during this unique tour, do it. You’ll kick yourself if you miss it. As most of the readers of this will be Englanders and other Europeans who have the opportunity to see these guys frequently, I address my closing remarks to you. Don’t ever take Lindisfarne for granted. They are as much a national treasure as the island for which they were named. Here are a bunch of guys who are as real as you can get.

Their political and social leanings are well known through their songs. Their actions back it all up. They could have stayed home, safe and sound, knowing that they would always have large, receptive audiences that loved them. They did not need to come to the States to play to small crowds, people who had never heard of them before, and for money well below their value. Yet come they did. You would have thought they were having the time of their lives. They came because of a love for, and a commitment to, what they do. Like minds with different ideas. They possess qualities rarely found among successful musicians. We were singing their songs in the ‘70’s, and we’re still singing and learning new ones. 

I hope they return to the States, next time with the full band. I fear they will not. If not, I will always have this experience etched in my memory. Nothing can replace the all too short time we had with Rod, Billy, Dave, and Sparks. So the next time you go see them, make sure you soak it all up, and store it safely in your hearts. 

Their message is not in one song, but in many lives.