|Lindisfarne: Caught in a visious circle|
|by Keith Altham|
|from NME early '72 - discovered by Michael Clayton|
Lindisfarne, Genesis, Rab Noakes / Dublin
They have a maxim here in Dublin that "if you don't chance your arm you won't break it" but by the same token you are not likely to achieve anything more than you have already. And Lindisfarne are too good a group to sit on their laurels, as they proved on their opening night here last Thursday of their tour with Genesis and Rab Noakes.
Most of the old favourites are still with us but they are still feeling their way with much of the new material from Dingley Dell (sic) although I particularly liked the medley of three tracks from the album which embraced their new single "All Fall Down".
"Jacka" made more than one passing reference to the fact that the band were trying out much of the material and were nervous - "scared shitless" I believe were his exact words - and certainly he was not his ebullient self.They played an oldie and mouldie from their first album "Float Me Down The River" which never really got going and it was not until "Gan Back" (sic) and "Wake Up Little Sister" that they seemed to get into that happy thrash which is a feature of their work in top gear.
Alan Hull's "United States Of Mind" which has a really beautiful lyric did not help fit the programme at that stage but somehow it seems churlish t criticise such fine writing. Hull played and sang "Poor Old Ireland" somewhat bravely in the confines of Dublin's National Stadium I felt, although the statement is more one of sympathy than political attitude - it was well received. Their real problem at the moment is that they are not provoking the sort of response from the audience that they could, because of their anxiety over fresh material. It was not the audience's fault because the help was there but it was not called upon until the final number. #
The two thousand capacity audience received them rapturously and would have liked more but they had already over-run and enough was enough. A good set from Lindisfarne but it is a question of balance still.
For most people the surprise package that evening was Rab Noakes who although known for his compositions "Together Forever" and "Turn A Deaf Ear" which have both been recorded by Lindisfarne, is a relatively unknown quantity as a solo performer outside his native Scotland. His nervousness was apparent in his stammered introductions but not in the delivery of his songs, and the endearing quality of his work like "Miles Away" and his new single "Drunk Again" were certainly not lost on a crowd who took him to their hearts and gave both him and guitarist Robin McKidd one of the best receptions of the evening.
Last but by no means least we come to Genesis who have about as much in common with Lindisfarne as Ghandi had with Attila the Hun. Peter Gabriel and his ensemble are from another musical world but they still managed to get through to the very pro- Lindisfarne crowd and played a fine set in which Tony Banks on organ and melotron produced some remarkable effects and Steve Hackett some refined guitar work.
If there is one reservation I have about Genesis is that they should "fly" more often than they do as a band. The only time you really feel they let go is on "The Return Of The Giant
Hogweed" and then they really cook. So what goes on that is so impressive the rest of the time? I guess you could say it was "quality control" in the shape of the amazingly different and often bizarre attitudes expressed through songs like "Watcher Of The Skies", "Get 'Em Out By Friday" and the "Music Box" (sic) and the hypnotically repellent (you just have to see Peter's amazing transition into a space-age-tart) theatrics from Gabriel.
He appears at one stage of "Music Box" (sic) now in a long red dress with a fox's head upon his shoulders - it would be funny if it were not so effective.
They make you think, this band, and if there is a more solid rhythm foundation than the much-underestimated Phil Collins and bass player Mike Rutherford I have not heard it. Nor are they without humour I might add, as Peter Gabriel proved at one stage by announcing during a pause that he was treating us all to " a bit of avant garde silence."
Later, back at the Intercontinental Hotel, I asked Ray Laidlaw how he felt about Lindisfarne's new programme:"Quite promising," said Laidlaw, obviously selecting his words with care. "The real problem is that we are in a vicious circle. We know that we must progress and we also know that by changing an accepted format we may get slammed. We know that it is not quite right but it is getting better every time.
"Tonight for example we were working towards a climax when we discovered that we were over-running and had to leave out two "rockers". It's coming - did you see Rab though, wasn't he great?" I'd be a rich man if I had a penny for every member of Lindisfarne who asked me that question and supplied the answer that night.