I’m sitting in the audience at Backstage at The Green Hotel, beside me Nigel Ewen from the Acoustic Music Workshop is eying the stage with a look of envious awe. Lindisfarne is about to start their set and Nigel, a bit of a vintage guitar collector himself, has a serious case of gear envy. “I think that is a Teisco guitar”, he says pointing at a sunburst beast with more switches, knobs and dials than the cockpit of your average commercial aircraft. “Ry Cooder used to take the pick-ups out of Teisco guitars and put them in his Stratocaster that’s how he got his sound, it’s such a great sounding pickup.”
The proof of the pudding, they say, is in the eating and when Lindisfarne guitarist Rod Clements breaks out the Teisco on a scintillating performance of ‘Scarecrow Song’, I can hear exactly what he is talking about. It’s visceral sound and Clements high-octane slide playing elevates the song into a barmy ‘Freebird’ Clements high-octane slide playing elevates the song into a barmy ‘Freebird’ brilliance.brilliance.
Lindisfarne are ostensibly a folk-rock band but within that remit that variety they display within their songwriting and arrangements is frankly staggering. Rod Clements is the only member from the original line-up of Lindisfarne but he has put together an absolutely phenomenal group of musicians to do their back catalogue justice.
There is a number of multi-instrumentalists within the group, Steve Daggett on keys, guitar and percussion, Dave Hull-Denholm (who is the son-in-law of the legendary originally Lindisfarne member Alan Hull) on guitar and piano, and finally Clements himself on guitar, mandolin and fiddle. This means that you never seem to get two songs in a row with the arrangement.
This also lends the opportunity for a smaller band within Lindisfarne. At various stages of the gig, the rest of the guys leave the stage and Dave sings a couple of songs at the piano accompanied only by Ian Thomson on upright bass and Paul Thompson on drums. The best of these is the indescribably pretty ‘Love Forever Darling’.
Dave also sings a couple of songs from his father-in-law’s last album ‘Statues and Liberties’. First up, a timely Christmas song with a sly wit and a sense of social consciousness, the acerbic ‘Cardboard Christmas Boxes’. Better still is ‘Walk A Crooked Mile’ which is a beautifully crafted slice of power pop that would have Nick Lowe seething with jealousy.
As well as playing some deep Lindisfarne cuts, including the hobo-tastic country belter ‘Sundown Station’ from the overlooked ‘Untapped and Acoustic’ album, we also get a slew of the bands greatest hits. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t know that Alan Hull actually wrote 'Fog on the Tyne', it’s one of those songs that sounds like it’s always existed. I remember the cheesy Paul Gascoine whiteboy rap version that Lindisfarne charted with in the early nineties. However, before launching into the classic song Rod Clement’s assures us that no misogynistic, I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, ‘Meet Me on the Corner’ is the best song about the procurement and consumption of marijuana ever written … at least the best one not written by Cypress Hill.racist footballers were harmed in the making of the version we are about to hear.
I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, ‘Meet Me on the Corner’ is the best song about the procurement and consumption of marijuana ever written … at least the best one not written by Cypress Hill. It really has everything you could possibly look for in a song, a beguiling, comforting melody that simultaneously evokes Crosby, Stills and Nash, and Cat Stevens. Plus, it’s got lush harmonies to boot. It’s a song so good that they play it twice before ending with an encore of ‘Run for Home’ and ‘Clear White Light’.
‘Run for Home’, in particular, is a revelation with Paul Thomson producing a massive and magnificent ‘Be My Baby’ beat that rivals Hal Blaine at his Wrecking Crew finest. Stripped of the album versions elaborate string arrangement the song seems somehow more direct and muscular. It has pomp and power that reminds of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’.
After the house lights come up Nigel nips off to have a word with drummer Paul Thompson. During the ‘70s Roxy Music, along with Lindisfarne, were Nigel’s favourite group and Paul was the drummer on their early albums, and he is keen to say hello. That’s one of the great things about ‘Backstage’, you can see some world-class acts in an intimate setting a short drive from your house, and if you’re not feeling too shy you can even have a wee chat with them afterwards. It really is grassroots music at its finest.
Perth Festival of the Arts has joined forces with its 2020 artists to create a 10-day online celebration to ‘celebrate the arts together'.
May 21st Thursday 2020
Dougie Maclean's new Perthshire festival this summer: Cardney Concerts.
March 18th Wednesday 2020
Party at The Park, the South Inch, 27th and 28th June, will feature fantastic live performances from The Charlatans and many more!
March 12th Thursday 2020