Lindisfarne Concert Review(s)

Keswick/Ulverston/Newcastle City Hall - Nov 1997

by Derek Walmsley

November 1997 was a very special month - I saw Lindisfarne three times! Firstly in my favourite fell-walking base of Keswick, next on my doorstep in Ulverston and then a tremendous return to the hallowed City Hall.

The intimate atmosphere of a packed Keswick Rawnsley Hall provided a perfect end to a dayís Lake District walking. It only took the opening "Walk A Crooked Mile" and "Wish You Were Here" for my co-walkers to comment how good the group sounded. The musical intuition between all the band members is extraordinary: a real team effort. Further changes in style were provided by Rodís excellent new song "Working My Way Back Home" and old favourites "Log On My Fire" and "Uncle Sam". Dave Denholm then presented his atmospheric instrumental "Ardnamurchan" running into a stirring rendition of "Poor Old Ireland". Another "Amigos" gem "Anyway The Wind Blows" was followed by a rollicking "Why Can't I Be Satisfied" and the sing-along "Run For Home", with Martyís saxophone receiving special praise from my Lindisfarne first-timers.

The ex-Grammar school was small enough and the unseasonable November evening temperatures warm enough to encourage outside drinking and smoking by the audience in the interval. In fact, Dave Denholm chided members of the audience for smoking "behind the mountain bike sheds"!

The second half began with three tracks from the "Blues From The Bothy" E.P. Old chestnut "Knackers Yard Blues" contrasted with the homely relaxed swing of "Coming Home To You", showcasing Billyís vocal dexterity and more superb Craggs sax. The haunting flute in "Refugees" and the even newer Clements nugget "Jubilee Corner" were followed by Billyís memorable rendition of Alanís "United States Of Mind". "Lady Eleanor"'s special magic and excellent Dave Denholm versions of "Winter Song" and "January Song" led into the finale. "Old Peculiar Feeling", "Meet Me On The Corner", "Alright On The Night", "We Can Swing Together" and "Fog On The Tyne" brought the house down as usual.

In Ulverston the initial atmosphere of the Coronation Hall was colder but the natural warmth and light-hearted quips from the band soon shone through. Not only that, there was chance to bop around at the front! The "Westmorland Gazette" reviewed the concert with the headline "Brilliant Musicians Lift The Pervading Gloom", saying that "the music was getting to me more than I expected, and it was nicely spiced with the "new country" flavour now so much in vogue. The bandís warmth and lyrical sympathy towards the human condition was a testament to the uplifting power of music."

It was great to travel through to Newcastle and queue again outside the City Hall. An outstanding and highly emotional performance brought a rapturous response from the capacity crowd and I felt privileged to experience such a magnificent homecoming. In addition there was the side-splitting compering of Mike Elliott, a confident three-song curtain raiser by the up-and-coming Andrew Craggs and the delights of Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell. In the first half, Kathryn played a nice duet with Rod on "Flowers Of The Forest" before launching into a jig with the whole band. Kathryn also fiddled through the finale from "Old Peculiar Feeling" onwards, with the bonus of "Clear White Light" as the concert closer. Other additional treats for the ecstatic City Hall clan were the opener "No Time To Lose" and, in the second half, "Passing Ghosts" and "All Fall Down".

It was heartwarming that the band gave special thanks to the numerous members of the audience who had travelled from outside Geordieland. I renewed acquaintance with George Mullins from Ramsgate who I met at the Whitby Metropole concert last year. We were both impressed at the effort which had gone into the Lindisfarne Fan Gala at the Discovery Museum. In the shadow of the Tyneside ship "Turbania", there were gold discs, silver discs, concert posters, photographs galore and an opportunity to buy old programmes and records. Alanís guitar on which he wrote the songs for "Nicely Out Of Tune" and "Fog On The Tyne" was displayed alongside the gleaming 1974 Harley Davidson motorbike "Lady Eleanor".

Of special interest was the video collection of single promos and concert footage, mostly from the late-1970s/early 1980s. These were nicely brought up to date by candid shots of the current line-up performing "Coming Home To You" and "Run For Home". Rarities abounded with three versions of "Fog on the Tyne" (1970/1976/1979) and many clips of songs from "Back And Fourth", "The News" and "Sleepless Nights". The intentional comedy of "I Must Stop Going To Parties" and "Start Again" complemented the unintentional comedy of 1970s fashions in "Juke Box Gypsy", "Call Of The Wild" and "Friday Girl". A worthwhile event for the fans and for the Young Musicians Fund; Louise told me the auction of photographs raised the impressive sum of £604.

Derek Walmsley