Lindisfarne and Miranda Sykes kick off the festival in fine style

PUBLISHED: 11:37 06 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:37 06 August 2019

Lindisfarne at the Ham Marquee. Picture: Paul Strange

Lindisfarne at the Ham Marquee. Picture: Paul Strange

Paul Strange

Hats off to whoever had the inspired idea of booking Lindisfarne as the pre-festival headliner for this year's Sidmouth Folk Festival.

: Lindisfarne founder member Rod Clements at the Ham Marquee. Picture: Paul Strange: Lindisfarne founder member Rod Clements at the Ham Marquee. Picture: Paul Strange

Newcastle's favourite five-piece folk rock band - who were triumphant in the early 1970s with hit singles and a number-one album Fog On The Tyne - drew a sell-out audience at the Ham marquee on Thursday night.

And the capacity crowd - including many of a certain vintage from the band's hippy heyday - were treated to a storming 90-minute show that threatened to blow the marquee down.

But before all the fireworks, there was a gentle, reflective set from Miranda Sykes. Best known for her sterling work supporting British folk duo Show of Hands, it was a chance for Miranda to shine, showing that she's considerably more than just a bassist and vocalist.

Playing acoustic guitar, double bass and occasionally singing a cappella, she performed an intriguing, intimate mix of originals and covers, interspersed with personal tales.

Lindisfarne at the Ham Marquee. Picture: Paul StrangeLindisfarne at the Ham Marquee. Picture: Paul Strange

And then the stage was set for Lindisfarne. Time has taken its toll - key members Alan Hull and Simon Cowe died in 1995 and 2015 - but the band continues into its 51st year, now fronted by founder member Rod Clements.

And from the bright and breezy opener, No Time To Lose, it was plain that Clements (mandolin, fiddle, guitars, vocals) was on strong form.

Ably abetted by Dave Hull-Denholm (guitar, vocals), Steve Daggett (keyboards, guitars, vocals), Ian Thomson (bass, vocals) and Paul Thompson (ex-Roxy Music, drums), Clements led the accomplished quintet through a range of Lindisfarne classics.

Early highlights included All Fall Down, the mystical Lady Eleanor, Clements's Train In G Major, and a potent Marshall Riley's Army.

Powering through a superbly paced set, the band slotted in memorable versions of We Can Swing Together, their anthem Fog On The Tyne, (with audience singalong), Clements's Meet Me On The Corner' and the anthemic Run For Home (with another crowd singalong). Finally they encored with a boisterous take on Clear White Light, that left the audience shouting for more.

All in all, it was an unforgettable evening, kicking off this year's Folk Festival in fine style.

PAUL STRANGE

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