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The Acoustic Strawbs - in the late 70s!
The Acoustic Strawbs - in the late 70s!

Acoustic Strawbs @ Leicester Cathedral

by Paul Grunill
If you want something a little different when you go to a concert, then it's worth checking out The Strawbs whenever they come to Leicester...


Last year they played the Guildhall on a January night so cold an open fire was lit in the main hall to prevent the audience - and band - from going home with hypothermia.

This time, just a few steps away and thankfully on a much warmer evening, they played inside the cathedral as part of the Castle Park Festival.

"If you're going to sing in a cathedral, then it's handy when you have songs called Benedictus and A Glimpse of Heaven in your back catalogue"
Paul Grunill

If you're going to sing in a cathedral, then it's handy when you have songs called Benedictus and A Glimpse of Heaven in your back catalogue.

And they were the choices to begin and end a show in which vocally and instrumentally, they were magnificent.

Formed in 1967, The Strawbs merged their folk influences with progressive rock in the 70s - 'fog' music perhaps?

Nowadays they are constantly on the road in Britain, Europe and North America in various configurations, either as an acoustic trio or a full-on electric band, and playing to loyal audiences who for politeness' sake can be said to be 'of a certain age'.

The trio has undergone a change since they were last in Leicester with Chas Cronk replacing Brian Willoughby alongside founder member Dave Cousins and Dave Lambert.

It has enabled their vocal harmonies to become even richer, shown off immediately as they sang Benedictus acapella.

The Acoustic Strawbs (c) Alison Brown
The Acoustic Strawbs (c) Alison Brown

They took the opportunity to try out songs not performed live for many years including Oh How She Changed, a first single which unsurprisingly made no impression on a June 1968 chart topped first by Gary Puckett's Young Girl and then Jumping Jack Flash by The Stones.

The set had plenty of light and shade, from the power of Cut Like a Diamond and New World, to the subtlety of Autumn and Dragonfly.

The highlight, however, was The Antique Suite, a four-part song cycle from their 1970 album Just A Collection of Antiques and Curios. Beautiful and sad, it was done full justice by superb playing and the alternating vocals of Cousins and Lambert.

Cousins described the opportunity to play inside the cathedral in the city where he was once a university student as a 'privilege'.

The same word could equally well have been used by those lucky enough to be in the audience.

last updated: 20/09/05
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