Lindisfarne Concert, Blackheath 22/11/98
A concert review by Chris Groom

Set list:


Thinking about a review for this concert, I could see that it would be hard to get across exactly how good this particular evening was. Having been fortunate enough to see the band perform many times over the past twenty years and rarely been disappointed, the temptation is often to think, oh yes just another good gig. All I can say is that I'm not usually one to make rash judgements or to heap false praise on the band, but this one really should be filed under 'great' and even allowing for the fact that nothing can ever be 100% perfect, Lindisfarne at Blackheath came pretty close!

It easily ranks alongside any of the concerts that I've seen featuring Si, Jacka and Alan but we can argue about that later.

When the dust had settled, both the band and the crowd had got its breath back and the lads ventured into the bar for a well-earned beer, I sought out Rod to tell him what I thought. "But we think it's good every night" he joked, with the contented smile of the man who knows his job was well done. "Who can tell exactly what made this one so special", he said cryptically, "..I guess that all the elements were in the right place". Dave nodded in satisfied agreement, in fact all the band knew it had been 'one of those gigs'.

It was one where the sound was just right (thanks, Sparks); one where every member of the band hit top form - even Woody played near-perfect cowbell on 'Fog on the Tyne' - and although it would be unfair to single out one person, I have to say that I have never seen Rod Clements play better guitar. 'Inspired' is the word that comes to mind, particularly when he chose to stretch out the solo on 'Road to Kingdom Come'. It is also be impossible to pick just one song as a highlight; but fair to say that the live performance of material from 'Here Comes the Neighbourhood' show just how strong the new album is. Surely 'Born at the Right Time' and 'Can't Do Right' are destined to stay in the set for many years to come - and personally I really like 'Jubilee Corner', although a few years back I thought that 'Karen Marie' was going to become a regular favourite - so what do I know! As you can see from the set list there was no shortage of old favourites either; on Marty's suggestion they have  reintroduced 'Wake Up Little Sister' and Billy leads the band through a blistering version of 'Passing Ghosts'.

One element that no great Lindisfarne gig can do without is the right crowd and the people at Blackheath obviously knew they were on to a good thing. The audience reaction was so tangible, you could almost see the vibe flow back and forth (pun intended!) and you knew that the band were enjoying it as much as we were. By way of comparison, Julia and I also managed to get to the earlier dates at Swindon and Salisbury; both were fine (it is good every night, Rod) - with Salisbury Arts Centre being housed in an old church, which is a lovely setting but perhaps the audience took this as a sign to be a bit too reverent and stay in their pews. However, Salisbury did offer a memorable moment near the end, when Woody rummaged around through the costumes backstage and found a suitable collection (including pieces of what appeared to be a Chinese dragon) before careering wildly around the stage during 'Devil of the North'!

Make no mistake, the band are playing better than ever. Roll on February I say, but the lads will have to go some to improve on Blackheath.

Chris Groom