Exposé Online banner

Strawbs — Live at NEARfest
(Witchwoood Media WMCD2026, 2005, CD)

Acoustic Strawbs — Live in Toronto at Hugh's Room
(Witchwoood Media SP 9913, 2004, DVD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 2006-05-01

Live at NEARfest Cover artLive in Toronto at Hugh's Room Cover art

Strawbs line-ups have undergone quite a few changes in recent years. Having never seen Brian Willoughby, I was happy to view his guitar stylings since they are substantially different from Dave Lambert’s. This live DVD and short documentary is a convincing representation of how well the trio managed a stripped down configuration where vocal and the two guitar accompaniment can be underscored. High points include the medley of “Maclean Street” and Sandy Denny’s signature song, “Who Knows Where the Time Goes.” Both Willoughby and Lambert open the piece on e-bowed acoustics leading into an insightful vocal from Cousins. “Flying” and “The Hangman and the Papist” also come off strongly with the former piece spotlighting Cousin’s banjo playing and Lambert’s fitting harmony vocal. The latter piece is perhaps Cousin’s most graphic piece of story telling with the trio turning in fervent high drama. The documentary portion of the program is worth noting as Cousins serves as tour guide to the early days of the band through pubs they used to frequent.

Alternately, witnessing the penultimate gig on their 2004 US tour I am pleased to see Witchwood put out the tight performance by the reformed Hero and Heroine line-up. The set opened with “Out in the Cold” that segued into a quick tempoed “Round and Round” where keyboardist John Hawken and Lambert indicate why they were a formidable melodic front end. The sleeper and most sinister performance was a moody “Burning for Me” that swells with anticipation and is perhaps the best received song in their set. Cousins was in fine form with his gnarly delivery and contemporary slant on “New World” which exacerbated his angry vocal. Best performances include “Autumn” with its sweeping lush keys and the medley of “The River/Down by the Sea.” “Starshine/Angel Wine” and the title track from Ghosts were also assertively delivered as Lambert showed additional prowess on second lead vocal. Two new pieces from the recent Déjà Fou recording were included in the set. In summary, the Strawbs many configurations are seemingly all worthwhile endeavors for fans of their large catalog.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 33, 2005 releases, 2004 releases

Related artist(s): Dave Cousins, Strawbs, Brian Willoughby, Dave Lambert

Latest news

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Jade Warrior - Now – Jade Warrior is one of those musical enigmas that has been nearly impossible to pigeonhole. Founder members Jon Field and vocalist Glyn Havard resurrected the band in 2007 meeting up after a long...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues