Live In Gettysburg – Rites Of Spring Festival 2016
The Strawbs have been around a long time, and there have been many member changes, with original member Dave Cousins as the longest standing member. He has been there since the beginning in 1964, when the band Strawberry Hill Boys were formed as a bluegrass/folk band. The band shortened their name, shifted their sound, and have been responsible for some of the best and most respected rock albums since the 1970’s. Live in Gettysburg – Rites of Spring Festival 2016 is their most recent release and their 12th live album.
For this show, the band focuses on their classic (and one of their largest selling albums), Hero and Heroine. Perhaps it is the album they are best remembered by, which would explain their returning to it when they are performing it live. For this live recording, Cousins is joined by long time members, Dave Lambert and Chas Cronk. Lambert and Cronk contributed a great deal to that classic album and many other incredible Strawbs albums.
What makes this particular live recording so interesting is the addition of former IONA member Dave Bainbridge on keyboards (John Hawken played keyboards on the original album, and he has joined the band for several tours since). Bainbridge is given the freedom to write and perform pieces, which are variations of the songs on the album, between the tracks. This makes for interesting listening and basically makes this a new album, not just a live recording of Hero and Heroine. The pieces are short, but serve as wonderful bridges between songs and make the show more of a concept piece, at least musically.
The band plays beautifully, Lambert with his tasteful, melodic and powerful guitar solos, Cronk using his bass to add to the melodies and Tony Fernandez, who has been with band for quite some time, does an admirable job with the songs and adds his own flare.
Fans of the original studio album will love the live versions, and the fact that they perform the songs in the same order of the album (with the additional bridges noted above) makes for a fun listening experience. Cousins still sings with the same conviction and emotion as he always did, and Lambert offers up some stirring vocal performances, especially in ‘The Winter Long’ from “Autumn”.
This live album is a treat to listen to, and the added DVD is worth the money alone. Although simply filmed, The Strawbs are incredible to watch. Cousins has a commanding stage presence, but the rest of the band add to the show as well. Having seen the band live many times, this DVD does an excellent job in preserving them live, at this time in their career.
As good as this album is, the band have not recorded new material since 2014’s Prognostic, an album well worth searching out, and given the level of talent in the band, a new album would be more than welcomed.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: THE STRAWBS – LIVE IN GETTYSBURG – RITES OF SPRING FESTIVAL 2016