Lindisfarne - Arizona Daily Star - June 11-18, 1999

Lindisfarne still captivates audience 30 years later

by Jay Prasuhn

Taken from "The Arizona Daily Star" June 11-18, 1999

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With a bit of a cult following in England throughout most of the band's 30-year existence, Lindisfarne has opened for such acts as Genesis, The Kinks and the Beach Boys and played huge English festivals.

Come the punk revolution of the '90s, Lindisfarne was cast off as something of a relic, yet survived the decade on the strength of a captivating live show.

Thirty years later, the glam bands are gone, but Lindisfarne is still here, and thriving.

Lindisfarne, a six-man semi-acoustic band with a style as defined as that of a chameleon, put that solid live show on display Saturday for 225 at the Berger Performing Arts Center, the third of 20 stops on the band's first U.S. tour in 25 years.

The band is stateside promoting the recent release of its new album "here comes the neighbourhood" after a winter tour of the UK.  With something for everyone, the crowd did not leave disappointed. With a stellar live acoustic performance, the band came in vogue again in the '90s with the renewed popularity of acoustic performances, sparked perhaps by Eric Clapton's MTV "Unplugged" release.

Lumped into the folk category, the Newcastle-based band has all genres in its repertoire. Celtic, rock, bluegrass and country were all there in the band's tailored 21-song set.

"How do I answer that ?" bassist Ian Thompson asked regarding the music industry's attempt to label Lindisfarne's style. "It's song-based; it's just the way it comes out."

Slide guitarist Rod Clements, one of the band's founding meber, elaborated. "We present the songs whatever ways we can with the tools of rock and roots-type

music," Clements said. "It's whatever we've been exposed to: Celtic, pop, folk, dance. We worked it into being, for some time, completely acoustic. Back then, it was something completely new and refreshing, and it was successful.

Lead vocalist Billy Mitchell, who replaced Alan Hull after Hull's death in 1995, proved worthy of the Lindisfarne name. The slight old man, comfy on stage as a night of must-see TV in his T-shirt and baggy pants (sans socks and shoes), Mitchell bounded about the stage and sang like a man 20 years younger.

He showed his vocal prowess during "United States of Mind", an Irish folk-style song, followed by "One Day," a song reminiscent of any good, slow Eric Clapton track.

The band switched gears as guitarist Dave Denholm plodded into "Unmarked Car", one of the band's new tracks and a great slow, bass-driven road trip song, beautifully trimmed by the flute of Marty Craggs.

Mitchell again took the front for another new track, the upbeat "Jubilee Corner", taking on a Mark Knopfler vocal style.

The definitive crowd-pleaser was "Train in G Major", a mellow Clapton/bluegrass fusion duet with Craggs on harmonica and Clements plucking the slide guitar.

Lindisfarne again threw the crowd a curve, coming at it with "Old Peculiar Feeling" and "Two Way Street", a pair of songs that Mitchell said were ideal for line dancing. "Anyone caught line dancing will be immediately thrown out", Mitchell warned, jokingly leading into the songs.

The band did get the crowd out of their seats with a call during the chorus of the Celtic rock-flavored "We Can Swing Together".

Sorry, but I could not resist to comment this. To categorize the music of Lindisfarne (if ever necessary, what I don't think by the way) definitely is not easy, but to compare with Eric Clapton (for "One Day") sounds rather strange. Any comments on that ? I would put them here. [R.Groll].