Strawbs 1972, 1973 and Newcastle City Hall 23rd September 1976
My mate Tony had the Strawbs lp “Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios” which we listened to endlessly. It must have been 1970 or 1971. Our favourite tracks were “Fingertips”, the epic “Where Is This Dream of Your Youth”, which still sounds great today, and (strangely) Rick Wakeman’s piano solo “Temperament of Mind”. I didn’t get to see Strawbs live until May 1972 at the Lincoln festival, where they played on a cold wet evening between I think Stone The Crows and The Faces. By then Rick Wakeman had departed and the line-up was Dave Cousins (vocals), Tony Hooper (guitar), Richard Hudson (drums), John Ford (bass) and Blue Weaver (keyboards). By that point their set contained classics such as “The Man Who Called Himself Jesus”, “The Hangman and the Papist” and “Benedictus”.
There was, and is, something unique about Strawbs music which sets them apart from many of their folk-rock contemporaries. Dave Cousins voice has a strange, other worldy, yet vpleasant, quality and their songs tell great stories.
The line-up of the band changed dramatically in late 1972 and early 1973, and Strawbs began to pursue a more rock/pop sound, hitting the charts with the excellent “Lay Down” and “Part of the Union”. By the time I saw them again in, I think, 1973 at Sunderland Locarno the line-up was Dave Cousins (now the only original member), Dave Lambert (guitar), Chas Cronk (bass) and Rod Coombes (drums). This was much more a rock band; Dave Cousins even wore a bright sparkling glittery jacket 🙂
The ticket here is for a later gig, in 1976 at Newcastle City Hall. By then the band were focussing more on playing in the USA. They called it a day in 1980, but soon reformed. Cousins, Lambert and Cronk continue to play today. I’ve written elsewhere on recent Strawbs gigs which I have attended, and pretty good they are too.
Archive for the ‘Strawbs’ Category
Strawbs 1972, 1973 and Newcastle City Hall 23rd September 1976
Classic Legends of Rock and Folk Newcastle City Hall 1st March 2014
Martin Turner plays the music of Wishbone Ash
So the Classic Legends of Rock (and Folk) came to The City Hall, the spiritual home of rock in the North East of England. This was an evening of mixed emotions for me. I’ve seen all of these bands headline the City Hall to packed houses. It was great to see them back on the big City Hall stage again, but also a little sad to see such a small crowd (I would guess there were a few hundred people there) which filled the front part of the stalls (the circle wasn’t open). So I enjoyed seeing the bands perform last night, but the memories of 40 years ago, when I stood in a capacity crowd cheering and singing along to “Blowin’ Free” (or on even earlier tours “Jailbait”), “Back Street Luv” or “Lay Down” are forever etched in my mind, and bring back memories of just how great all these acts were; back in those days which are now beginning to seem such a long time ago (which is because it was a long time ago 🙂 ). Anyway, back to the show.
Strawbs were on stage when I arrived just after the advertised start time of 7.30pm. This was the three piece acoustic version, which features David Cousins, Dave Lambert and Chas Cronk, all of whom have been with the band since 1973, and in Cousins’ case from the very start. Their short 30 minute set featured (among a few others songs) the excellent “Hangman and the Papist” (Cousins commented on the fact that old band-mate Rick Wakeman is coming to the City Hall soon, and recalled how they played this track on Top of the Pops during a period when the show featured a regular “album spot”), “Ghosts” and finished with the hit single “Lay Down”. A few minutes to change the gear and Curved Air appeared on stage. The first track was instrumental, with Sonja Kristina joining the band for “It Happened Today”. The latest version of Curved Air features Sonja (vocals), fellow original member Florian Pilkington-Miksa (drums), Kirby Gregory (guitar), Paul Sax (violin), Chris Harris (bass) and Robert Norton (keyboards). We were treated to the beautiful “Melinda (More or Less)” (a favourite of mine), a couple of new songs, a shortened “Vivaldi” and closer “Back Street Luv”. They were on stage for around an hour.
After a short break, Martin Turner and his band took to the stage. Those of us who follow both Martin’s band and Wishbone Ash (featuring Andy Powell) will know that the outcome of a recent court case means that Martin is no longer allowed to use the name Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash and is hence now touring as Martin Turner plays the music of Wishbone Ash. I’ve seen both bands several times over the past few years; Martin in particular has been touring a lot. Because of this I wasn’t really too bothered about staying for their set; I’d come more to see Curved Air. As it happened, I was really impressed by Martin and his band last night, and staying through to the encore of “Blowin’ Free”. He has assembled a line-up which faithfully recreates the music of classic ’70s Wishbone Ash with himself as front man, vocals and bass; Ray Hatfield and Danny Wilson having the unenviable task of reproducing the twin-guitar sound, which they do amazingly well, and Tim Wilson on drums. The set included well-known Wishbone Ash songs such as “King Will Come”, “Warrior” and “Pheonix” alongside less often played tracks like “Lullaby” from the “Pilgrimage” album and Laurie Wisefield’s “Goodbye Baby Hello Friend”. A great set with a nice mix of songs; Martin and his band deserved headline status last night.
Looking back this morning on the concert last night, I enjoyed seeing all those classic songs performed again, but for me the evening was tinged with a little sadness and a wish that I could turn the clock back and relive the concerts of the early ’70s. Never mind; I’ve just watched “Hangman and the Papist” from Top of the Pops 1971 on YouTube; powerful; amazing stuff; Cousins is wearing a great coat 🙂 .
Is it really 43 years ago..? I couldn’t print my e-ticket at home then.
“Who will be the hangman in the dawn?”
HRH Prog Fest Magna Centre Rotherham 6 April 2013
I won free tickets for the Prog fest at the Magna Centre yesterday, and drove down to Rotherham for this event with my mate Norm. The line-up was headed by Hawkwind, and featured a host of other prog-related acts including the Strawbs, It Bites, and Arthur Brown. We arrive at around 5pm just is time to catch Arthur Brown. Arthur is doing a great job of recreating the psych-tinged R&B which featured on his first album. His set is drawn largely from that album, and he fronts a new band of excellent musicians, including a great keyboard player and guitarist. He is also accompanied by a dancer, with whom Arthur engages in some crazy, comical moves. His voice is as strong as ever; the Crazy World lives on. After seeing Arthur and his Crazy World we nipped out to Ben and Jerrys in Meadowhall for a bite to eat, and returned in time to catch the end of It Bites’ set, including Calling All The Heroes.
The Magna centre is an intriguing venue for a rock festival. It is housed in a massive old steelworks, which in its day will have been at the heart of the Sheffield steel industry, and by day it is a visitor attraction showing the history of steelmaking. The festival took up much of Magna over this weekend with some festivals in one taking place: the Prog fest which was the reason for our visit and its companion AOR fest, both organised by HRH. Each festival had two stages: the Prog fest main stage was in the “Face of Steel” and stage 2 was in “Earth”. For the AOR fest the main stage was in the Big Hall, and the second stage was in “Fire”. Signing sessions took place in the “Fuel” restaurant: we headed their after It Bites, lined up and got a flyer signed by some of the members of Hawkwind (sadly Dave Brock did not come along 😦 ).
We then found our way to the strange little room, which was “Earth” at the other end of the venue, and watched a little of the acoustic Strawbs, before heading back to the “Face of Steel” for Hawkwind, who opened their set with my favourite “Master of the Universe”. It was really getting cold by now; the size of Magna, with massive high ceilings, means that it is probably impossible to keep warm now, although it will have been red hot in its day when it housed a furnace. Norm and I have experienced how cold it is before, when we went to see Hawkwind ay a fan club event a few years ago on a cold December night. We watched a little more of Hawkwind’s set and then decided to keep warm by moving around and visiting the AOR fest. The Main Hall was packed for Tesla who seemed an intriguing rock band. We then went up to “Fire” where we watched a couple of songs of Estrella. Then it was back round to Hawkwind again, passing “Earth” where Karnataka were playing. Hawkwind finished their set around 11pm with Damnation Alley from the Quark, Strangeness and Charm album. Hawkwind have been playing the entire Warrior at the Edge of Time album on their current tour, with dancers and light show. Apparently the stage at the Prog fest wasn’t big enough for the show, so Hawkwind decided to revert to a standard set. As it was getting late by the time Hawkwind finished and we had a two hour drive home we decided to pass on seeing Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash and heading for the M1 north. Got home 1am. The festival was fun, but the venue was FREEZING…..
Classic Legends of Rock Newcastle Tyne Theatre October 28th 2009
Featuring Focus, Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash, The Strawbs
Went along with Will and Norm on Wednesday night for our second dose of Classic Legends Rock. We saw the tour last year in Harrogate; this year it came closer to home at the Newcastle Tyne Theatre. The only change from last year was that the Groundhogs have been replaced by Strawbs. This is sadly because Tony McPhee has recently suffered a stroke, and although reports are that he is recovering well, he is not yet well enough to join the tour.
First up was the Strawbs who delivered a short set of classic folk-rock. Dace Cousins is, as always, the showman of the band delivering the songs with his own very characteristic vocals. After a short break Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash take to the stage. Tonight they deliver the enitre classic Argus album, followed by a great version of Jailbait. Focus keyboard and all-round character Thys Van Leer joins them on organ for one song. I find it hard to decide which of the current versions of Wishbone Ash is truer to the original. In my view they both deliver and are well worth seeing. If anything Martin Turner’s band are closer to the original albums; tonight they could have done with a being a little louder for me. Coincidentally Andy Powell’s Wishbone Ash were playing the night before at Newcastle Academy. I decided to give them a miss this time, but have promised myself that I will catch up with them next time they come to the North East.
Closing the show was Focus. Last time I thought their set was a little too long and some of the solos a little too drawn out. Tonight I felt it was just the right length. Thys is as eccentric as ever and plays his Hammond organ wonderfully. The guitarist is spot-on; musically this band can’t be faulted. We get great versions of House of the King, Hocus Pocus and Sylvia.
Verdict: Three great bands; all playing well and playing the songs we wanted to hear. A good night.
Acoustic Strawbs Ovington Social Club Feb 20 2009
The last time I saw Strawbs was in 1976 at Newcastle City Hall; was looking forward to seeing them again after all this time. Called of my friend Will on Friday night and we then relied on my new satnav to direct us to Ovington Social Club. The satnav didn’t let us down and took us right to the door of the club; we would have been lucky to find the place without it.
The concert room was already full when we arrived; not a seat left; so we took a spot standing at the bar. The Strawbs soon took the stage; the acoustic line-up is Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert and Chas Cronk all of whom are long standing members. Great to see the band in such an intimate setting; they apparently played here last year and asked the promoter to book them again. Dave Cousins and Dave Lambert are both in fine voice and the guitar harmonies are clear and beautfiful. Tears and Pavan and the Hangman and the Papist are particularly striking with Dave Cousins on great form; quite doomy melancholic songs. They finish with Lay Down and return for one encore. Will is disappointed that they don’t play Part of the Union; suspect that this is because it is a Hudson Ford song.
Great to see the Strawbs again; I’d forgotten just how good they are. I dug out my copy of the first album and started playing it again.
Tears And Pavan
Oh How She Changed
The Call To Action
Josephine (For Better Or For Worse)
Glimpse of Heaven
The Hangman And The Papist
Shine On Silver Sun
We’ll Meet Again Sometime