Lindisfarne Concert Review

Chequer Mead Arts Centre, East Grinstead - Sunday, 12th October 2003

by John Grenfell

" many will probably become familiar faces at future gigs. Little did I know then"

Six days, three gigs in the South East and the whole gamut of the Lindisfarne experience.

Although the tickets have been in the house for months it all really began on Sunday. We had front row tickets for East Grinstead as we usually do for Lindisfarne gigs. The website is brilliant for letting you know way in advance about forthcoming shows. "How did you find out about it?" asked the lady in the box office who informed me I could literally choose our seats. Straight in front of Billy's feet will suit us nicely so we had three right in the front. In recent weeks we've seen the Strawbs and the Searchers at then same venue and enjoyed them thoroughly. The Chequer Mead Arts Centre is a converted school and is establishing itself as a venue for great music and very slow bar service. Despite the presence of alcohol and posters I still had that feeling I always get when in a school building but the auditorium although smallish is superb with good acoustics.

We arrived with plenty of time to chat to the regulars who I expected to see. Mike C didn't make it until the interval because he had an earlier football match. You could tell from the numbers in the foyer that tickets had sold well and not just to the grizzled fiftysomethgings but to several younger fans and the offspring of the grizzlies.

And so to Billy's feet and the gig. We rarely see the feet of course because of the monitors. Starting with Fog seems strange to me although it got the audience off to a hand clapping, knee tapping as "lively as a Sussex audience ever gets" start. Roll on the Opera House! The set proceeded as reported in other reviews and was a safe set, in fact I felt that it wasn't too imaginative when you consider the material available. In recent years there has always been a few surprises/As usual the band put on a polished display of true professionalism. Rod's guitar playing incredibly continues to improve as does his singing voice which I think is still better suited to small intimate venues than theatres.

Dave and Billy singing together has now reached a level when they are really as good as you get. Billy has also developed that priceless quality of being a genuine "front man" for the band. His rapport with the audience gets stronger every time I see him. By the end of Run For Home the audience were thinking of standing up and some did to applaud. The applause was warm and rapturous and those who turned up out of interest were now converts. Dave came back and did One More Bottle Of Wine which led to a number of sniffles and the wiping of the corner of many eyes. Clear White Light brought the house down and Devil of The North, probably my least favourite Lindisfarne song, was performed with high octane. The queue for the CDs and signings was as brisk as I expected and the crowd went home happy and many will probably become familiar faces at future gigs. Little did I know then.