Lindisfarne drummer Ray Laidlaw has persevered over the decades to keep the name of this great band at the forefront of North East life and with long-time friend and musical collaborator Billy Mitchell has produced a terrific show that is original, hugely entertaining and a wonderful legacy to the music.
As the title says, this isn’t an opportunistic cash-in tribute band to the most famous and best-loved group to come out of the region; it is an intelligent, three-part show that charts the history of Lindisfarne from the mid-1960s.
While the musically versatile Mitchell never became a fully-fledged member of the band until 1996, his story is woven into the fabric of the pre-Lindisfarne set-up as their occasional singer and he even passed up the opportunity to join the group in the early days.
In part one Laidlaw related how he and his mate, guitarist and songwriter Rod Clements, met the human gold dust that was to become one of the UK’s biggest bands. Add into the mix Simon Cowe’s musical arrangements, Ray Jackson’s vocal style, harmonica and mandolin and Alan Hull’s song-writing genius and a brilliant group was born, acquiring a reputation as a live band par excellence. The fact that they played the City Hall 120 time is a testament to this.
With 1970’s Nicely Out Of Tune, Fog On The Tyne (1971) and 1972’s Dingly Dell – the Charisma record label years - they produced a classic LP output that few bands could ever hope to match and when Fog on the Tyne reached number one in the album charts, Lindisfarne became national and internationally renowned with a musical legacy that stands the test of time.
Clements (who wrote Meet Me on the Corner) guested throughout the show and sang a number of his own classic Lindisfarne compositions while Tom Mitchell excelled on additional vocals. The second part comprised Fog On The Tyne being performed in its entirety; a platinum album in its full glory: Meet Me on the Corner, Alright on the Night, Uncle Sam, Together Forever, January Song, Peter Brophy Don’t Care, City Song, Passing Ghosts, Train in G Major and, of course, the alternative Geordie nation anthem, Fog On The Tyne.
Part three - the encore - lasted an hour as more classic songs, culminating in Run For Home, were lapped up by the sell-out crowd.
Great songs, great show. It felt like the old days.