Review of 22 December concert (set list spoilers included)Iíll be honest and say that I booked tickets for last nightís show with some hesitation. Much though the thought of a Lindisfarne Christmas concert for somebody like me (having never experienced one) was tempting, the thought of a reunion never really excited me. Talk of getting everybody involved as part of some grand celebration soon turned into a six-member band, with some notable absences. However, the tickets were booked and as last night approached I was looking forward to hearing some wonderful music all over again. I wasnít disappointed. As we entered, we were given the customary party hats and a free programme (donations to charity). Iíve yet to sit down and give the programme my full attention, but it looks a mighty fine production, and credit to all involved with it.
The band (seven in the end: Ray Jackson, Dave Hull-Denholm, Ian Thomson, Paul Thompson, Charlie Harcourt and Steve Daggett, with Tom Leary on fiddle for certain songs) came out following an introduction from ĎSantaí and Barry McKay, and kicked off with Road to Kingdom Come. Dave Hull-Denholm then took over with a great version of All Fall Down, albeit with a fairly dismissive mention of T Dan Smith by Jacka beforehand (the political references throughout the show were a tad simplistic and got a bit weary by the end). The Dingly Dell tunes continued with Wake Up Little Sister, before Scarecrow Song and City Song showed us the impeccable harmonies that Dave and Jacka had developed. Marshall Riley's Army is always a favourite of mine, and rightly updated to reference 'seventy' years instead of 'forty'. Together Forever nicely led into Lady Eleanor, which was as haunting as ever. Dave Hull-Denholm was always a brilliant singer, but last night he really showed how good he is. For me, he is the most talented vocalist of anybody who has performed in Lindisfarne, and Lady Eleanor showed that as well as anything else. I would have preferred it without the addition of violin at the end, however. Tom Leary is clearly a gifted violin play, and on some tracks it worked wonderfully well, but on Lady Eleanor (and one or two others), it did feel a bit like instead of working in harmony, the violin was competing with guitar/harmonica/mandolin. The first half finished with Court in the Act.
Following some lovely ice cream and a few waves to fellow friends in the audience, Turn a Deaf Ear (my memory is going a bit hazy here so forgive me if Iíve missed songs out or put them in the wrong order) was followed by Kings Cross Blues and then a wonderful version of Train in G Major, where Rod Clements got a mention. It was very nice to hear that he was in the audience, and I hope to hear his version of the song (in the key of E Major) on his new record in the spring. Uncle Sam was well played and sung, as was January Song. Winter Song then got the biggest applause of the night, and deservedly so. Iíll not repeat my earlier praise of Dave Hull-Denholm, but this was just wonderful. Picky me though would have rather not heard the little bits of percussion that accompanied Dave and Ian. Then came Fog on the Tyne (with the references to the BBC, of course) and the 20 minute version of We Can Swing Together. Following an appearance from the High Spen Sword Dancers, the second set closed with Run for Home and Meet Me on the Corner.
There was a brief moment when we all thought the encore might not come, but it thankfully did, and a surprisingly brilliant version of Roxy Music's Letís Stick Together preceded a favourite of everybody in the audience: Clear White Light.
As a friend remarked to me this morning, there were not many surprises in there. However, it was a good and full set list. I didnít expect such a polished and expansive concert - it was very impressive for what remains a new band of musicians. My personal preference would be that it remains a seasonal celebration of brilliant music to help out a fine music venue, but if it develops into something more substantial, then so be it. Based on last nightís performance, theyíre certainly capable of pulling it off.