The Leylines tour is underway!

I’m a bit late with this update – apologies, but last weekend a rather splendid event took place at The Black Market Venue in Sunny Warsop.  Well, threatening-to-be-snowy Warsop I suppose!  I hotfooted it up there early, because it would let me get a good spot to park the van which would be our bed for the night, but also because Becky and Pete were bringing Buster down for a bit of socialising practice. The band were in place soundchecking, I passed a lovely few hours nattering with folk and supping a pint of Illicit or four!

This was the opening night for The Leylines tour – and Andrea had pulled out all the stops as promoter (is anyone really surprised at that? Ha!) and snagged not one, not two, not three, but four support acts so the night got underway pretty early – utilising the main stage which is sporting a new sound system for the assembled crowd.  It was particularly exciting to see Dirty Davey get his first announced outing for a while (although I did make a sneaky trip to see him at an open mic night last week!).

The last time I saw Dirty Davey performing at an announced event it was his first time being microphoned up and it’s fair to say the experience was overwhelming – but this time the practice has clearly paid off, a very confident performance – showcasing two of his own compositions as well as a couple of well-chosen cover versions.  It was a short set as he’s been struggling with illness, but it left not just me bursting with pride watching him do his thing on the big stage.

He kicked off the set with Shirt of Blue – not the ‘The Men They Couldn’t Hang’ song of the same name, but his own tale of a former school companion who was on the other side of the picket line during the miner’s strikes, coming into conflict with family and friends alike.  Heady stuff – but not as moving as Old Man, a heartfelt tribute to Dave’s grandfather who clearly remains a strong influence on his life and morals – a touching and lovely way of recording a memory of somebody special.

Next up was an acapella rendition of Summer Fields and Riot Shields – powerful words by Joe Solo documenting what it was like to be on the receiving end of both policemen’s truncheons as well as mis-represented bile in the popular press at the time.  He finished up the set with a rousing cover of Ferocious Dog’s Slow Motion Suicide – definitely inkeeping with the overall theme of the set!  Dave got a deserved great reaction from the assembled crowd – which will do him the world of good as he embarks on quite a few festival bookings this summer!

Next up was the pirate himself, Mr. Brian Stone – it wasn’t really that long ago he was in Dave’s shoes, now he’s very comfortable upon the stage, and with good reason!  He kicked off his set with autobiographical Jack of all Trades – one I can definitely empathise with!  There would be a bit of a theme of familial tributes following on from the set before – Quiet Anarchist is Brian’s tribute to his father, poignant, touching and funny all at once – followed up with the more moving Did She Know, the song telling the tale of his mother.

To lighten up the mood a dance off to Ward The Pirate was called for – and delivered – then leading into a new song inspired by his sister called Skipper of the North, a new song – and a few lyrical slips didn’t put him off his stride at all!  An unusual outing for You’re Just Like Me made a welcome change from recent sets (that I can remember at least – that can be sketchy!), he finished up with the obligatory Never Drink With The Leylines, and followed up with Why Is All The Rum Gone?! with accompanying hipflask.

Interestingly it turns out The Leylines (particularly Steve) have turned over somewhat of a new leaf on the whole drinking front!

The Star Botherers lined up next – twice in a week for me seeing them on a big stage, what a treat!  They kicked off with Just Around The Corner and looking at my photos I could either only get Dave wreathed in shadow, shrinking violet that he is, or with some light but Bart totally washed out – oh well, Ella got some great photos of all the acts so follow this link to her Facebook photography page!  Ringing In Sick was next before Star Wars Bride – noting Valentine’s Day being soon (ha, it’s now!).

I’ve not heard 13 Years in Oregon for a while so that was welcome, nor Hubball Shuffle – I think it was at this point Dean started the ‘I’ll buy you a Jägerbomb’ game – which never seems to end!  Luckily Andy had thought about food unlike me and grabbed some pizzas, which were most welcome otherwise the recollections to follow could be even more hazy.  My National Trust and Bad Guys finished up the set along with something simply described as ‘new song?’ in my notes!

It is genuinely exciting that Shanks’ Pony seem set to be strutting their stuff outside the stable more often this year – and there’s even talk of recordings, which would be great!  They kicked in with Good Old English Folk Song and into Never Kissed a Girl.  There was definitely some Jäger-induced amnesia/distraction for a few songs in here, one was dedicated to Sarah and sounded quite morbid lyrically at least – maybe there’s an in-joke there I’m not aware of, haha!

Rollercoaster was next (the Shanks’ Pony song, not the Ronan Keating one!) into Top of the World.  The crowd were getting well into the set by now, and fan-favourite Special Brew certainly got them going – I think the penultimate song was Sanity and with nobody rushing them off the stage we were treated to a bonus encore of sorts in the form of Moshpit Waltz which is certainly a good way to warm up a crowd for dancing before the headline act took the stage!  As always I like to keep an eye on what Big Bob gets up to on his cajón too – I always learn something watching him!

Which left the small matter of The Leylines.  They launched straight into instrumental Stone Circle which kind of sets the tone nicely for their energetic folk rock.  It seemlessly melded into You’ve Changed and then it was Sorry My Friends.  When I’d seen the band before the gig they’d said they were playing new songs – first up was In Your Shadow.  Haunting vocals and unmistakably Leylines, clearly they’ve not been resting on the laurels of the accolades their debut album deservedly received – which is always heartening!

Let It Go was next and then Save Your Soul, with no Addie to cuddle I resorted to sending him a message instead – haha!  Another new song Standing By The Water Side was next, one we’ve heard before a few times – it fits in well, leading into My Own Worst Enemy – one of my favourites.  The band were sounding very tight having had a bit of a break from playing over the winter, and the new sound system at The Black Market Venue is a very big improvement too!

Long Way From Home was next which is newish, followed by the very new Fly Away. I understand why they don’t like including cover versions when they’ve their own stuff to showcase, but it’s always a treat to hear their arrangement of Levellers’ Fifteen Years originally done for Bostin’ Days – there was a reason Steve explained they included it but I can’t even begin to remember what it was!  Things I Know followed, then another new song – as yet unnamed it was called Hannah’s Song for the time being as she wrote it.

My notes say ‘great dancability – Hannah should write more songs!’ – so I think that’s a pretty ringing endorsement!  Ella joined them on backing vocals for Run For Cover and the set proper was finished up with the ever-rousing For Queen and Country – I hoisted Dave up with a bit of help from Russ but either he’s put on some timber or I’m even more of a weedling as I definitely wasn’t lasting the whole song, haha!  Oh well, it’s the thought that counts!  They did an encore of sorts of Sat In A Field with Andrea on stage to do some backing vocals.

Thanks to the Jäger (cheers, Dean!), there’s so mcuh I have probably forgotten – although I did remember Steve had snapped a string by the end of the set.  Go figure!  All in all, an awesome evening of music and so many friendly faces.  After the gig it was lovely to spend time mingling with folk, not least Brad who seems unfeasibly excited out his soon-to-be-released EP (watch this space), and it was great to catch up with Ellis too who’d been on the lash with Dom for the evening.  It was bloody cold sleeping in the van though!



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