Lindisfarne Concert Review

The Lowry, Salford - Sunday, 26th October 2003

by Derek Walmsley; photos by Martin Woodhead

more photos will be available soon at Martin's website 

" Lindisfarne Will Never Die! "

My journey, first by train from Barrow to Manchester and then by Metrolink tram to the rejuvenated Salford dockland area, was tinged with thoughts of the last week’s events. Joined by long-time co-fans Peter and Steve at Tom Mitchell’s merchandise stand, I bought a “doing the business” T-shirt. This new batch included three extra words, “the final tour”, under the Lindisfarne logo. Heading into the Quays Theatre, an air of puzzlement hung round many people in the audience. Just after 8 p.m., the lads took to the stage. Billy soon confirmed the situation- “we’ve been to the Lowry once before- this visit will be our last”. 

Billy soon dispelled another area of unspoken knowledge. He said he would get out the way the fact that Newcastle had won its soccer match that weekend and both Manchester teams had lost, United to FULHAM of all teams!

It was evident the audience was now even more determined to enjoy its last chance to hear Lindisfarne. Halfway through the gig, one punter shouted out “Lindisfarne will never die!” to a spontaneous round of applause. At the very least, the legacy and the spirit will live on, making these final concerts a celebration of 33 years rather than a wake.

The concert started with three oldies- Alan’s “Fog On The Tyne” and “No Time To Lose” followed by Billy’s antique classic “Rocking Chair”. The latter was now given a full band arrangement following its successful appearance in the Acoustic tour last Spring.

Four contrasting “Promenade” gems were next on the agenda. The band tightly supported Rod’s superb guitar solo and Bill’s vocal on “This Guitar Never Lies”, the descending bass line ending being especially effective on the night. Billy’s harmonica and delivery of “Remember Tomorrow” evokes the style of Jack The Lad. Dave’s evocative and Rod’s earthy vocals on “This Too Will Pass” and “Freedom Square” respectively also show the depth of song-writing and performing talent which will now need to find a voice outside the main band.

After “Ghost In Blue Suede Shoes” from the Neighbourhood album, Billy said “if you don’t know the next song, you’ve got the wrong gig- “Bjorn Again” is next door!” Personally, I will miss the ethereal build up to “Lady Eleanor” in its group setting including Ray’s cymbals and drum beats and Rod’s mandolin- must savour it while it lasts. A change of style with Ian’s distinctive “Under The Promenade” saw Dave take over vocals, giving way to Billy for the driving “Rock’n’Roll Phone”. Back on vocals, Dave sent the first half off to a storming climax with “Statues And Liberties”, the title track of Hully’s superb posthumous solo album from 1996.

After the break, a rousing “Meet Me On The Corner” soon dispelled any gloom from interval talk of “why are they breaking up?” Billy’s “Born At The Right Time” went down well as always. It was then duo time. “Isn’t it quiet in here?” said Dave as he and Ian performed an extra-emotional “Winter Song”.

Four songs from “Neighbourhood” then followed in quick succession- “Can’t Do Right For Doing Wrong”, “One Day”, “Unmarked Car” and “Jubilee Corner”. Exquisite playing backed Billy on the classic Rod ballads. It was especially good to hear “Car” again with its psychedelic intro, memorable riff, marvellous use of group dynamics topped by Dave’s haunting vocal. Another favourite of mine is Rod’s “Unfinished Business” which Billy then sang to great effect. A great group version of “Whisky Highway” from Rod’s “Stamping Ground” album ensued, Rod’s vocal tailing off before the band came crashing back in again. It was then emotional farewell time as Billy invited the audience to join in “Run For Home”. The resultant standing ovation brought home how much Lindisfarne has meant to people over the years. 

In the encore, it was time to get emotional again as Dave gave a moving rendition of Alan’s classic “One More Bottle Of Wine” in its new Acoustic trio arrangement. The band returned for “Clear White Light” and “Devil Of The North”, effectively bringing proceedings to a close before saying goodbye to Manchester as a band for the last time. 

The lads were staying overnight nearby so they stayed for a good while to sign CDs, biographies, tickets and even a jacket! It was good to be able to wish them all the best and promise that our support will be there whatever 2004 and the years beyond that bring.

After the dust has settled on the emotional celebration in Newcastle this Saturday, the “Chemistry Set” used on the BT3 tour following Marty’s departure will have to be brought out again. Many of us feel that the band have already found the winning formula. However, numerous experiments with different elements and compounds are already on the horizon. We already have the Spring Acoustic Tour, the “Ghosts of Electricity” and solo projects to look forward to and who knows what’s round the corner after that ? Nothing can be ruled out as the Lindisfarne story enters a new chapter, albeit under numerous different umbrellas!