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ConcertsNEARfest 2004: The Strawbs

Posted on Wednesday, July 21 2004 @ 23:14:36 CDT by Duncan Glenday
Concert Reviews David Cousins's signature electric dulcimer was left in a hotel room in Washington, DC. The saga of whether or not to use mellotrons waged for 3 days. The band played a set on Saturday night and stayed up until a ridiculous hour, politely signing every autograph and meeting every fan before driving to Bethlehem. The day after their Sunday night NEARfest headline appearance the three band members still living in the UK were to fly back to England, and Cousins would go straight into an intense rehearsal session. And to add to that severe schedule, some Sea Of Tranquility writer took an hour of David Cousins' time for an interview at noon!

And despite all that, the band delivered a relaxed and professional performance that was the antithesis of the prima donnas in the previous set in every possible way.
Strawbs's performance, was surprisingly close to their recent acoustic tour in terms of both -- the setlist and the narrative between songs. But as wonderful as the acoustic tour was, the sound at NEARfest was essentially identical to the albums. This was the full electric set, and the lineup was the same as on the 1974 Hero And Heroine album.

Dave Lambert's guitar work was masterful. The man is quiet and unassuming and his band plays progressive folk music, so those unfamiliar with Strawbs were truly surprised. The rhythm was horribly 'jangly' in places, but that was exactly the way it sounded on those old vinyl LPs.

Great pain was taken to provide a Mellotron for John Hawken, yet it sat virtually unused on the stage in its snow white coat of paint, and with its specially commissioned service job and its brand new tape frame. I'm told that Hawken played a few bars on it but I must have missed them.

Nevertheless, it was a pleasure to hear all the classics, as well as two brand new songs from the new Deja Fou album, and what a surprise it was to see how well "Grave New World" addressed the events of 9/11. You couldn't have written a more appropriate song if you'd started on 9/12.

And that missing electric dulcimer?

It took a harried drive from New York to Washington and all the way back to Bethlehem to retrieve the dulcimer. But no Strawbs show would be complete without that distinctive sound on "Benedictus". (Thanks, Liz!)

Set List:
Out In The Cold, Round And Round
Shine On Silver Sun
Grave New World
Burning for Me
Simple Visions
Autumn
Benedictus
Ghosts
Heartbreaker
Barren Land
River, Sea
Hero And Heroine, Round And Round

Encore:
Here Today, followed by the national anthem of Strawbs:
Lay Down

Duncan Glenday

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