Keswick - Theatre By The Lake - Monday, 8th November 1999
by Derek Walmsley
Just when you thought that Lindisfarne concerts couldnít get any better, the band pull more surprises out of the hat. Over the last 12 months, the gigs have concentrated on spotlighting the "Neighbourhood" album. Now these songs are accepted as firm favourites, the opportunity has been taken to scan the back catalogue for more lost gems and to re-introduce "Run for Home" and "Fog on the Tyne" as highly effective crowd-pleasers. A 25-song set of well over 2 hours is great value for money but when the quality of performance and atmosphere is added you have an occasion not to be missed.
The bandís confident approach to songs old and new capped by their infectious camaraderie were lapped up by a 400-strong capacity audience at the Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, on 8th November. In fact, the concert sold out so fast that yours truly almost missed out and the lads are playing this exciting new venue by the shores of Derwentwater again on 29th January. The town of Keswick, superbly located in the English Lake District, has long been a popular weekend haunt with young Tynesiders. Billy recalled this during the set, saying "he would like to try getting drunk and sleeping in plastic bin-bags" again!
If you want to be surprised by the treats in store this tour, then donít read any further! For those who canít wait to see how the new set list shapes up, then hereís a run-down.
"Devil of the North" effectively starts off both concert and the new "Rock of the North" video. Marty takes over vocals for "Anyway the Wind Blows" from the classic "Amigos" album. Next, two superb performances of songs rarely performed live. The harmonies on "Alan in the River with Flowers" (or "Float me Down the River" as it was titled in America) are spellbinding and this "Nicely" track is perfectly recreated right down to the staccato riff at the end. Last heard with the writer, Rab Noakes, at the 25th Anniversary concert in 1995, "Together Forever" bounces along in superb style. "Working My Way Back Home" was one of the first tracks ever previewed from the "Neighbourhood" album and itís great to see it back in the set.
Another rare treat follows as Marty and Billy take centre stage for a great performance of "Nicely" closer, "Scarecrow Song". After faultless renditions of the new ballads "Ghost in Blue Suede Shoes" and "Canít Do Right for Doing Wrong", Mitch re-visits "The News" album with "Log on your Fire", questioning why the "audience arenít dancing to this modern waltz!" From the same era, the anthemic "Marshall Rileyís Army" makes a welcome return. The audience immediately recognise the opening bars to "Meet Me on the Corner" which earns huge applause and the crowd is sent to the bar on another high with a rousing rendition of "Jackhammer Blues."
"Lady Eleanor" effectively opens up the second half and then itís "Jubilee Corner", Billy asking if Keswick has such a place (as Newcastle has dozens). Dave Denholm then treated us to two songs sung in his best Alan Hull-style. "City Song" was followed by "Money Game" from "Pipedream"- absolutely stunning and evocative. Itís then back to "Neighbourhood" for "One Day" and Billyís classic "Born at the Right Time".
Rod Clements has only recently written a high proportion of Lindisfarne songs; however like George Harrison in the Beatles, he certainly made his couple of songs per album count. The superb "Why Canít I Be Satisfied", here carried off with great gusto, was even left off a Lindisfarne album and had to wait for "Itís Jack the Lad". However, "Donít Ask Me" took pride of place on "Dingly Dell"; it was even tagged the "Lindisfarne Song" at the time by Alan Hull, who considered it one of the groupís best efforts. It was therefore great to see a great slow-blues performance of this song, another successful addition to the bandís repertoire. Ian Thomsonís storming "Two Way Street" then provided an effective change of style and shows how the band has integrated everyoneís contributions, instrumental, singing and songwriting, into an experience even greater than the sum of its parts.
I commented after the Maryport concert in May that "itís a pity thereís not room for either "Run For Home" or "Fog On The Tyne". Well, itís great to see them back again- not in place of other songs but closing an even longer set list! The Keswick audience were on their feet for the rest of the night, starting with "We Can Swing Together" through to the finale of "Run", "Fog" AND "Clear White Light". When the crowd forgot the words to the verse in "Fog", Billy said "youíd better get it right when we come back in January". There will be many people practising; from the sound of the final ovation Iím sure theyíll all be back to do better in a few weeks!
To sum up, Lindisfarne have really cracked it with this set list. Long-lost favourites dusted down and sparkling anew. New material sitting comfortably with the rest of the treasure trove. All the major hits for those who have come along to see what all the fuss is about. Theyíll be back for more. Personally, I canít wait for Southport and, looking ahead to the next Millennium, the triumphant return to Keswick!
Derek Walmsley 10/11/99
P.S. Donít forget to buy your "Rock of the North" video, T-shirt and sweatshirt from Louise on the merchandising stand. Thereís C.D.s as well!