John Lees' Barclay James Harvest played a great gig in Perth Concert Hall on Friday night, featuring a strong set of classic songs, covering the full breadth of their diverse four-decade history.
The gig got off to a strange start, the sound crew having a few problems balancing the sound, and John Lees himself looking strangely flustered and distracted. At the end of the first song (Nova Lepidoptera) he explained that he'd just received a phone call ten-minutes before walking on stage to say that he'd become a grand-father!
The gig then really got started, the sound system seemed to be sorted and band stormed through their set, the highlights of which were upbeat rockers like Cheap the Bullet, and Poor Wages, delicate ballads like Galadriel, the bluesy confessional River of Dreams, as well as more proggy epics such as Mockingbird, She Said, and After the Day. On their last trip to Scotland, keyboard player Woolly Wolstenholme contracted laryngitis and couldn't sing properly which meant that the set had to be changed, and the harmony vocal department was deprived too. This time however he was in good voice, which made for a better show than 2006.
The band had clearly spent long hours in the rehearsal rooms, they were very very tight, every change, every ending worked through (except perhaps for Early Morning - a very late addition to the set). It was a great night which came to a fitting conclusion with the singalong of Hymn, and a standing ovation from the Perth crowd.
As usual, after the gig the band came out to the foyer to chat to the crowd, I always appreciate the way they take time to talk to the kids, sign programmes, answer questions - which helps to make the evening more of an occasion for them too.
It was a fabulous event and a real treat to enjoy a (much maligned!) band who can still deliver their craft with skill, verve, passion enthusiasm and humour. John Lees' Barclay James Harvest are on the UK leg of a European tour, at the following venues:
•23.10.09 Perth Concert Hall (01738 621031)
•24.10.09 Glasgow Òran Mór (0141 357 6200)
•25.10.09 Holmfirth Picturedrome (01484 689759)
•27.10.09 Cheltenham Town Hall (0844 576 2210)
•28.10.09 Milton Keynes, Stables Theatre (01908 280800)
•29.10.09 Colchester Arts Centre (01206 500900)
•30.10.09 London, Bloomsbury Theatre (020 7388 8822)
•31.10.09 Portsmouth New Theatre Royal (023 9264 9000)
•01.11.09 Canterbury Gulbenkian Theatre
•03.11.09 Norwich The Waterfront (01603 508050)
The full Perth set-list was as follows - but the band have over two and a half hours of material rehearsed and will be rotating several items over the next couple of weeks.
1) Nova Lepidoptera
2) Child Of The Universe
3) Poor Wages
5) Iron Maiden
6) Cheap the Bullet
7) Poor Man's Moody Blues
8 ) Harbour
10) For No One
11) River of Dreams
12) She Said
13) Loving is Easy
14) The Poet
15) After the Day
16) Early Morning