Lindisfarne Concert Reviews

Spalding, South Holland Theatre - Tuesday, 15th April 2003

by Margaret Kilner

Tunes among the tulips

"We've been doing this for three weeks," declared Rod as the trio sat down on stage, "so we’re pretty slick now." Billy was more concerned with the two rows of empty seats at the front of the auditorium – "Frightened to sit there, are you?" OK, so maybe it wasn’t quite a sell out at the South Holland Centre, but there was a pretty good crowd in and, as far as I could tell from overheard comments during the interval and at the end, it was mostly made up of people who really appreciated what they were hearing.

I had never been to Spalding before, but was very taken by this smart, modern and intimate venue. As a plus it also had a bar with realistic prices, which responded to Billy’s plea to stay open after the show. Sorry, I forgot - Billy told us it wasn’t a show; it was a concert [pronouncing this strange word carefully] … with the band putting in the concert-ed effort. Groan.

From all of this, you may gather that the three of them were enjoying themselves. They kicked off with Old Peculiar Feeling, swiftly followed by When Jones Gets Back to Town, complete with Welsh accent – " 'cos we were near Wales last night". We were then treated to a masterful rendition of Refugees, which was made more poignant by current events in the world. Two songs later (and after a short lesson from Billy – "if you don’t plug the guitar in, it won’t work, Rod. That’s what acoustic means") Rod returned to the war theme with one of his compositions from Stamping Ground, which he introduced as a piece of fiction now reflected by reality. Three tunes later and it was already time for the interval. The band went off for cocoa (if you believe that…) although Billy wasn’t sure what the audience would find to do. Go to the bar? Go home? The choice was ours.

The second half kicked off with Walking Back to Blueberry Hill, followed by a trio of tunes from the Fog on the Tyne and Pipedream albums. It was really great to hear these and they were of course, quite rightly, followed by a name check for Mr Hull himself. This led Rod into a bit of reminiscing – to his surprise there were people in the audience who could remember the folk club at the Rex Hotel in Whitley Bay from the sixties. All this was a lead up to Train in E major – "your voice drops as you get older and we can’t make G major now," explained Rod.

The mixed bag of old, new and middle aged songs rolled smoothly on, mixed in with a few more of Billy's jokes, and suddenly we were into Meet me on the corner and the trio were saying goodnight. This roused the sedate audience enough to call for encores. As Rod and Dave returned (Billy followed eventually – delayed by phoning his Mam again, no doubt) Rod almost expressed surprise at the enthusiasm of the applause – "we were saying earlier that you were a bit quiet, … but we were once told never to be frightened of a quiet audience. Unless they are coming towards you!" For the first encore we were treated to the full version of Freedom Square, with all three verses; and for the second a quite superb rendition by Dave of One More Bottle of Wine. A real spine-tingler and definitely one of my highlights of the night.

All that was left then was the obligatory visit to the merchandise stall (Promenade having got a plug as 'made in Lincolnshire') and a crack with the lads, although I must admit to being a bit bemused when Billy got carried away and supposedly tried to flog a second hand Ford Fiesta for £150. Obviously fancies himself as a salesman now. A last reflective pint in the bar and it was time to go home. It was a great evening and the trio are a well worthwhile alternative format to the full band. The cosy set-up suited the venue and all I want to know now is; when are they going to do it again?

    Margaret Kilner 16/4/2003