Woodman Folk Club - Reviews
|Nick Evans||20 May 2005|
I have admired Rodís music since first seeing Lindisfarne live at Stratford Civic Hall in February 1999. Since then I have seen the full band at least 7 times and the acoustic trio 3 times between 2001 and 2004. (Lindisfarne split on 1st November 2003 but the acoustic trio line-up toured once more the following Spring). I only wish I had followed them from the outset and seen them live with Alan Hull, who sadly died in 1995. They were a wonderfully entertaining band and I had high expectations for this night, which were not disappointed. This was my first experience of Rodís solo performance.
We arrived at the Woodman shortly after 8:30pm, which is very early for us, as we have a distance to travel. First up was Bryn Phillips, who included the infamous Chico song, very ably accompanied on vocals by the genuine Brynettes. Then the BICA band, all sounding very professional, with Ian Munro sporting a brand new Tanglewood guitar.
It was soon time for Rod to take to the stage, announced and applauded before he had time to sort out his chair, microphone or guitars, resulting in 2 rounds of applause for the price of one.
I must explain that I knew nothing about any review duties until the half-way break, when Bryn, who has to either delegate these tasks or write all reviews himself, turned his sights on me, and I gave in to the inevitable and agreed. Fortunately Bryn had made copious notes up to this stage, on which I now rely.
Rod started with Why Canít I be Satisfied (Clements- Itís Jack The Lad), later revived on Lindisfarneís Untapped & Acoustic, a stalwart song from their set which is a great opener but may be better suited to a later position in the evening, as it was always a good sing-along song for a warmed up crowd. Perhaps Rod intends the solo treatment to be more subtle than in those days.
Next up was Blue Interior (Clements- Stamping Ground), about a (fantasy?) black car acquired from Orson Welles, with a message about motivation. This song reminded Bryn of early Tom Rush and Tim Rose - fair enough.
Train in E Major (Clements- Fog on the Tyne) started life as Train in G Major but has been transposed over the years. ďJust to prove I can play in more than one key, Iíll put this capo onĒ says Rod. Wonderful song.
Hattie McDaniel at The Oscars 1939 (Clements- Stamping Ground), a song about the woman who played Mammy in Gone With The Wind, and won the first Oscar ever awarded to a black actor. She was shunned at the awards ceremony due to her colour.
Charity Main and The Roads of East Northumberland (both Clements- Stamping Ground), were written about Rodís local area. Charity Main concerns peopleís dependency on the coal mining that has now had to cease. Rod swapped from Dobro to his conventional acoustic guitar for these songs. Iím not sure of the brand but it has a very well rounded amplified tone.
The first set drew to a close with Freedom Square (Clements- Promenade), a meeting place for the black slaves, where jazz music was born. This song has everything in my opinion, great melody and lyrics, beautiful Dobro arrangement and an ideal sing-along chorus.
After the break I kicked off with a couple of songs, (one Dylan, one Evans) and then Rod drew the raffle for Ian.
Back in business again, Rod treated us to Working My Way Back Home (Clements/Barrett/Stonier- Here Comes The Neighbourhood), a song about travelling construction workers, which I recall reading was inspired by a conversation in his local pub.
Stamping Ground (Clements- Stamping Ground)- this title track must have preceded the writing of Freedom Square, with a few musical similarities.
Ramblingís Gonna Be The Death Of Me (Jansch- People On The Highway)- Rodís contribution to the Bert Jansch tribute album, and tonightís only cover. Rodís main instrument used to be bass guitar and he worked with Bert Jansch, amongst others, a good few years ago. Rod stays very true to the original recording, substituting Bertís string bends with his slide. A difficult song made apparently effortless and I really enjoyed this one.
Meet Me On The Corner (Clements- Fog On The Tyne) is Rodís great anthem, this night given a delicate lilting finger style treatment. A magical song in the same vein as Dylanís Mr Tambourine Man.
Canít Do Right For Doing Wrong (Clements/Stonier- Here Comes The Neighbourhood). Itís strange that I still link this song to Billy Mitchell who sang it in the band and seemed to make it his own. Rod gives this ballad a completely different treatment with simple rhythm guitar. This song broke Rodís reputation as a one hit wonder (for Meet Me On The Corner which reached number 5 in 1972), as Erin Rocha made number 36 with her version released in December 2003.
One More Night With You (Clements- Stamping Ground) A simple rock song with a very commercial sound, about separation forced by war.
Candlelight (Clements/Denholm/Stonier- Promenade). A dark, brooding song of guilt and the prospect of redemption.
Unfinished Business (Clements/Stonier- Promenade) This bitter-sweet song with a couple of great comedy lines is about how time passes and life gets in the way of your ideals.
Old Blue Goose (Clements- Stamping Ground) this final song of set 2 is the story of the blues artists Oscar Woods, Jesse Thomas, and the shop/brothel in Shreveport Louisiana, as related on the internet by contemporary bluesman Dan Garner.
Road to Kingdom Come (Clements-Nicely Out of Tune) Rodís well chosen encore- a great foot-stomping sing-along song but with an exquisite slide & finger picked Dobro introduction.
This was a very interesting and enjoyable night. Great to hear the Stamping Ground songs at last (my first exposure), and to hear all those familiar Lindisfarne songs pared down for solo performance.
Brynís early words to me- ďNot what I was expecting- I thought he would be some crusty old folkie!Ē I knew that Rodís subtle, melodic blues based music would be right up Brynís street as well as my own.