Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Strawbs -- AMP - May 18 2016

The Strawbs - I have seen one of my favorite bands many times in recent years as the Acoustic Strawbs where Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert, and Chas Cronk play mostly acoustic instruments in a rock fashion. But this is the first time I have seen the full 5-member electric Strawbs since 2004 (and the first time they have toured this way in the USA since 2007-8). The show I saw had the full members from the 1973-75 Strawbs, although this time the core trio are joined by long time drummer Tony Fernandez and new keyboards wiz, Dave Bainbridge (from Iona). And what a sound these guys come up with. The keyboards are magnificent with plenty of organ/mellotron type sounds that thicken the atmosphere both within the songs and as transition pieces. The drums of course push things forward and a heavier bass and an electrified Dave Lambert really make things soar. Even on acoustic guitar, Dave Lambert showed a great ability to solo and keep things rocking but now he can carry it further, yet still knows how to pull back and add lighter touch to the more delicate passages. Dave Cousins still has that incredibly resonant voice and Lambert and Cronk are there to fill in with the occasional lead vocal as well as the harmonies. The set list is heavy from that very progressive 1973-75 era with a first set having such classics as 'New World', 'Ghosts', and 'The River/Down by the Sea'.
photo: Dick Greener

After the break, they treated us with a rendition of what Rolling Stone called one of the Top 50 Progressive albums, 'Hero and Heroine' in entirety, although done 21st century style as Dave Cousins pointed out. They worked wonders with this material as it sounded fresh as ever and the pace and complexity of the title cut came through brilliantly. This finished off an excellent night where you could really obtain the full understanding of why the progressive scene was so exciting in the early seventies. Yet it is fresh as ever and extremely well played by a great band. If you think you have seen them enough as a trio, do yourself a favor and see the full band while you can.

And the sound was immaculate at my first experience at AMP, a small couple hundred or so club run by Strathmore (although a bit north of Strathmore auditorium and mansion). It is a comfortable venue that is booking well and they certainly had the PA to let a rock band shine.

Quote of the Night: Dave Cousins - "People don't understand what I'm doing, but I do." Well, not exactly the quote of tonight, but one he gave me in 2012 when during an interview which I enjoyed immensely. Read it here, much of it is still relevant.

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