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Oysterband 25 DVD OYSTERBAND
The 25th Anniversary Concert DVD - a film by Al Scott
Westpark DVD87111

They've come a long way babies, from late '70s dance scene beginings ("when we started life we just wanted to be a great Ceilidh band", says John Jones here) to the multi-faceted Big Session collective that can walk away with Radio 2 Folk Awards. Mind you, John adds, "we're a really, really ambitious band", and at this climactic gig in December 2003, the faithful are treated to their favourites in the balconied surrounds of Kentish Town's Forum.

Emerging after Ian Anderson's intro and highlighted with their 'Deserters' logo as a backdrop, the Oysters are on fire with an air-punching Native Son. The intensity builds, and delivering everything one could reasonably expect of a show, they power through Lost And Found from the Wide Blue Yonder album, with James O'Grady on uilleann pipes. In consistent form throughout, they're older, angrier and a whole lot louder than the outfit that made Jack's Alive. Would we have expected this? Could we have anticipated such a bullish vehemence on the evidence of 20 Golden Tie Slackeners? No way - stratospheres of roadwork and commitment have morphed over time to build what is, indisputedly, an exciting stage image.

The supporting cast boasts an acoustic Chumawamba and June Tabor, all contributing to a warm, involving interaction with the dyed-in-the-wool Oysterians. The latter are nowhere as apparent as on Everywhere I Go. They not only know the words, they believe in them - this is truly a bivalve crowd! In the revealing offstage/in queue segment we meet many nationalities. "I'm from Norway, I must've have seen them 140 times." Oh right, and drummer Lee Partis employs Tai Chi as a pre-gig loosener or alternatively, "the tactical use of alcohol." A sonic and visual winner then, and Oysterband proving on this showing that onwards and upwards was always going to be its agenda.

Clive Pownceby - March 2005

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An impeccable selection of the best in folk, roots and acoustic music.
Mike Harding
BBCi Music

Celtic Roots - BBC Scotland

Celtic Heartbeat - BBC Wales

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