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When Lindisfarne appeared at the Cambridge Folk Festival back in 1995, many of those present would not have seen the passing of Alan Hull coming later that year, an event that would have no doubt drawn a line under the band's existence. Almost thirty years later, the band are still here and those familiar songs are still very much celebrated by one of the North East's finest exports, with original member Rod Clements at the helm.
Tonight, Doncaster turned out in force to see the latest incarnation of the band, featuring Dave Hull-Denholm, Steve Daggett, Ian Thomson and Paul Thompson, along with Rod Clements taking his usual position centre stage, alternating between mandolin, fiddle and guitar. After a short opening set courtesy of the Driffield songstress Edwina Hayes, whose tangible warmth and engaging songs provided the audience with more than a suitable warm up, the band, without standing on ceremony, launched into some of their best loved songs, including All Fall Down, Lady Eleanor and Train in G Major, delivering on cue, a repertoire that can be equally enjoyed as vibrant music of today as well as serving as pure nostalgia. Can we really listen to Rod's Dylan-influenced Meet Me on the Corner, without reliving those early youthful days?
The handsome charity souvenir brochure, 'The Lindisfarne Chronicle', shows a six-piece band ready for action, although tonight, the Fender-toting Charlie Harcourt was conspicuous by his absence, having been forced into retirement due to ill health this summer. "Though Charlie has been playing like a demon - as always - his ongoing health issues have made it impossible to continue as a member of a touring band" said Rod. "He has battled on long past the point when a lesser soul would have thrown in the towel."
The remaining five-piece therefore soldiered on tonight, kick-starting their UK tour with no small measure of determination. If Rod Clements took care of his own songs such as Meet Me on the Corner, Train in G Major and Road to Kingdom Come, it was very much left to Dave Hull-Denholm to look after the Alan Hull fare, with almost eerie interpretations of his late father-in-law's January Song, Alright on the Night, Winter Song and Run For Home. One of the most poignant moments of tonight's show was Dave's solo performance of one of Alan Hull's more obscure songs, Love Lasts Forever, during which he accompaned himself on piano, bringing the hall to silence. The song is one of several found on a series of old tapes at Alan Hull's home studio, which include much older songs, recorded sometime between 1967 and 1969, many of which have never been previously heard. For those who hold fond memories of Alan Hull’s charismatic and idiosyncratic songs, this material does seem to be in more than capable hands.
With the usual 'fun numbers' such as We Can Swing Together and Fog on the Tyne, the current band drew tonight's concert to a close finishing with Clear White Light, augmented by loop vocals, which were not really necessary as the band can still handle things on that score with their own tonsils. Leaving the stage to a standing ovation, this Lindisfarne tour can be considered very much underway.
More tour dates and further information: http://lindisfarne.com