Lindisfarne - Put English Folk-Rock on the map.

Lindisfarne – 1976 Christmas Concert – Newcastle City Hall – Past Daily Backstage Pass – Holiday Edition

Lindisfarne – Put English Folk-Rock on the map.

Lindisfarne – In Concert – Newcastle City Hall – December 23, 1976 – Metro Radio Live Broadcast –

Lindisfarne and the legendary one-off Christmas Concert from December 23, 1976. Broadcast live from the stage of the Newcastle City Hall.

One of the real lynchpins in the English Folk-Rock movement, they were a band which had a massive following throughout England and much of Europe. Not so much in the U.S.(except the West Coast who loved them), though they did tour often during their various incarnations. They were also one of those bands who did a magnificent job live but didn’t match the level of their live shows on vinyl. And even though they had a string of hit singles and their first two releases were their best selling albums – the hits weren’t consistent, largely because they were a band, like so many during the 60s and 70s, whose concerts were far better received on a consistent basis than their studio endeavors.

Lindisfarne formed in 1968, originally called Brethren. The original line-up comprised Alan Hull (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Ray Jackson (vocals, mandolin, harmonica), Simon Cowe (guitar, mandolin, banjo, keyboards), Rod Clements (bass guitar, violin) and Ray Laidlaw (drums).

In 1970, Tony Stratton-Smith signed them to Charisma Records and their debut album Nicely Out of Tune was released that year. This album defined their mixture of bright harmony and up tempo folk rock. Neither single released from the album, “Clear White Light” or “Lady Eleanor”, charted; nor did the album itself at first. However, the band obtained a strong following from its popular live concerts and built a reputation as one of the top festival bands.

Their second album Fog on the Tyne (1971) produced by Bob Johnston, began their commercial success. This album reached No. 1 in the UK Albums Chart the following year. The extracted single “Meet Me on the Corner”, composed by Clements and sung by Jackson, reached No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart and remains the only Lindisfarne song to win an Ivor Novello Award. The performance of this song on BBC TV’s Top of the Pops featured Laidlaw striking a large bass drum with a rubber fish.

“Lady Eleanor” was reissued as a follow-up to “Meet Me on the Corner” and reached No. 3 in the UK and No. 82 in the US. The debut album Nicely Out of Tune belatedly made the UK Albums Chart Top 10 and the band began to attract a larger media following, with some calling Hull the greatest songwriter since Bob Dylan. The band were referred to as the “1970s Beatles”.

In 1972, they recorded their third album, Dingly Dell, but the band were unhappy with the initial production and remixed it themselves. It was released in September 1972 and entered the Top 10 in the first week, receiving lukewarm reviews. The ecologically themed single “All Fall Down” was a UK Singles Chart No. 34 hit and the second single “Court in the Act” failed completely.

Internal tensions surfaced during a disappointing tour of Australia in early 1973. Hull initially considered leaving the band, but was persuaded to reconsider. It was agreed that he and Jackson would keep the group name while Cowe, Clements and Laidlaw left to form their own outfit Jack the Lad. They were replaced by Tommy Duffy (bass guitar), Kenny Craddock (keyboards), Charlie Harcourt (guitar) and Paul Nichols (drums). The new line-up lacked the appeal of the original and with Hull also pursuing a solo career, the band’s next two albums Roll on Ruby and Happy Daze and the subsequent singles failed to chart and they disbanded in 1975. Nichols subsequently joined the hard rock supergroup Widowmaker.

The original line-up of Alan Hull, Ray Jackson, Ray Laidlaw, Rod Clements and Simon Cowe reformed in 1976 to perform this one-off gig in Newcastle City Hall before returning to their other projects. The Newcastle City Hall reunion was so acclaimed that the band repeated it a year later and decided to get back together on a permanent basis in early 1978, Jack the Lad having disbanded after none of their singles or albums on two different labels made the charts. They continued to perform at Newcastle City Hall every Christmas for many years performing a total of 132 shows at the venue overall.

In case you missed it – here it is – all 99 minutes worth.

Grab an Egg-Nog, get comfy and crank this one up.

Merry Christmas!

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