Lindisfarne Concert Review
Opera House, Newcastle - Saturday, 1st November 2003
by Mike and Hazel Jessop, photos by Eddie Bailey
"it was an honour to be there"
Privileged: It’s the only word to sum it up, after following them for 30 years and playing their material for 10, it was an honour to be there.
We had booked to see them this year at Durham, but with “The News” we got the last two adjoining seats in the stalls for a fine night out – after seeing Susie [Mitchell] and Lesley [Laidlaw] selling frantically on the desk we met Michael and Rachel [Bailey] who assured me more photos would be adjoining this review from his dad ! Pleased to see Sparks and Steve Daggett working on the live recording which is eagerly anticipated.
Billed to start at 19.45 ( Hully’s Birth year !) Ray peeked out to a full drumkit and I sensed a big sound night - the lads were visibly moved by the emotional reception at 19.48 - it was tremendous and all sensed it immediately.
As predicted they first went into No Time To Lose with mass clap along immediately and Billy concluding “Oh, so you’re up for it”. Rocking Chair followed from JTL with a great bass lead in before This Guitar Never Lies left me wondering about the lad with “but 3 chords and the truth !”- is that a reference to JAH ?
Remember Tomorrow was an apt next choice seeing Billy on Harmonica and his lovely hand built 12 string for the first of several times that night. This Too Will Pass, a most beautiful simple and truthful song in the key of A came up next sung by Dave and with fine harmonies from Billy. All four harmonised excellently next on Rod’s Freedom Square with Ghost In Blue Suede Shoes giving Rod’s first shine on frantic harmonics across 5, 7 and 12 frets.
An emotional but controlled Billy then poignantly led us into a set piece never off the list - a fine Lady Eleanor, dedicated tonight to Eleanor McDonnell – it simply brought the house down, this was the lads of the early 80’s back on a tremendous peak and bathing in wonderful green lighting.
Under The Promenade followed ( great song Ian, Thanks ) then Rock ‘n’ Roll Phone before a grand build up and acerbic delivery of Alan Hull’s grand finale Statues and Liberties – ( retained from Durham as I hoped ) brought the first set to a close.
The Second half saw the Lads met to a standing ovation and Meet Me on The Corner, followed by Born at The Right Time with dancing in the seats. Then ever so quietly, two spots descended on Ian and Dave for a fine delivery of Winter Song and a great momentary silenced atmospheric house in the “for Jesus” line.
Then a cracker of a joke – Clara and Lorraine – Ha ! Thanks Billy, the humour and banter with Gordon added to the homely atmosphere .
Can't Do Right For Doing Wrong saw Rod belting out some fine slide followed by Dave leading solo on January Song, then One Day, and a bluesy two guitar battled intro across the stage to the fine Road To Kingdom Come. The lead up and bursting out ( I see no other way to describe it ) of Unmarked Car was superb – what a riff! - then on into a bit of spitting about led by Billy on Rothbury’s Jubilee Corner.
Unfinished Business saw Billy acquire his Toon Top from the fans, then fantastic guitar stuff with bottle from Rod on Whiskey Highway.
Everybody , including those in the Gods were up and stomping with Run For Home brought in by Ray with a swinging disease in the stalls – wow , this was cracking along !
A four songs encore was emotionally charged with a packed swinging crowd enjoying every moment and, on stage, the wonderful happy sight of five chaps relishing their own enjoyment.
One More Bottle of Wine gave one of several respectful salutes to Alan, Fog on The Tyne was fine, then a punchy Devil of The North saw Billy acknowledging lifelong fans now dancing at the front amongst the cascade of celebratory balloons.
Inevitably the last number had to be Clear White Light, it’s simply not possible to find words for this moment but we saw simply tears in Billy’s eyes through our own.
After the CD signing, handshakes and photos, the night sunk in as we drove home.
In the house I went straight to Hulls Squire, given to me on CD that day by my wife – I played THE END .. remember
"Now , It’s the end, till we meet again.
I’ve sung my songs, I’ve tried to get along,
I hope you’ve enjoyed the show!"
Yes we very much did.
Thanks to all the chaps over 30 years who have provided us with our musical heritage – In my book you have always been there alongside Dylan and Lennon - and especially Alan who both inspired me to pick up a guitar and to confirm life’s values.
It was a privilege and an honour .. March On !