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Last night with Stackridge

I had an uplifting and inspiring experience last night. An unfeasibly good band called Stackridge, who I’m sure many of you are familiar with, were down to play at The Farncombe Music Centre in St John’s Church, Godalming, a leafy enclave of Surrey in the UK. They’ve been touring quite regularly over the last few years, since the release of their album ‘A Victory For Common Sense’, and I’d been intending to go & see them for a while. Well, Friday 18th May was my chance. I headed for the A3 and wove my way through the Southern countryside until I found the church, squeezing myself into a benevolently free parking space a little way down the road (it’s an issue in London….transport’s going to be such fun when the Olympics kick off). I approached the hall and was semi-convinced two of the band were stood there near the path to the entrance, one taking the evening air, the other having a crafty fag. Overcome slightly by shyness & excitement, I shuffled past them, head down, to reach the door where a sign read ‘SOLD OUT’ and the ticket guy was stood, explaining to another punter that ‘…you might have a chance of getting in if you wait ten minutes’. He was Julian Lewry, the promoter – and after a brief chat with him myself, I felt confident I’d not miss out on seeing the concert. I felt more confident when, a couple of minutes passed and the band’s manager, Mike Tobin, walked past me and went outside to join Clare Lindley & Andy Davis (Julian said ‘Yes, it IS them….’). I thought ‘Right – time to be brave!’ and I strode purposefully towards them, to introduce myself as the musician they might vaguely remember from a mutual friend’s recommendation on Facebook. My bravery was rewarded. Mike was a lovely chap and greeted me warmly, delighted that I’d made the journey to attend, before he left to go to the chip shop over the road (the glamour of show business, ladies & gentlemen). Clare and Andy were revelations – they were open & friendly, as down to earth as I’d hoped, answering my awkward questions politely & patiently (Clare, a Scot based in Bristol, joined the band after responding to an anonymous advert from a band looking for a violinist. Lucky bitch! 😉 I asked Andy about his sessions playing on John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ album and he was very courteous in recounting something I’m sure he’s been asked about many times. He then complimented ME, on my song ‘The Sun Is Cracking The Flags’ which he’d had sent to him by my friend Rick Genovese, co-writer on one of Stackridge’s excellent songs ‘Big Baby’. ‘We really like that song. What does the title mean?’, he asked and I mumbled something about it being a phrase dating from my Liverpool childhood, hardly believing that a guy like him would be interested to ask me about my music. He was such a nice guy & I hope I get to talk to him again soon, at length this time.

We were interrupted as it became clear there were some ticket returns, so I slid away from Andy & Clare, paid my money and got a seat at the back to watch the support, a male/female duo called Blackheart who had several nice tunes and some adventurous delay settings on their acoustic guitars. They engaged the audience nicely too, notably when the male guitarist announced ‘this next song is perfect for a Saturday….’, forgetting it was Friday (and the track was actually called ‘Wednesday Afternoon’. Mad……).

Soon, the time arrived for Stackridge to pick a path through the crowd and take to the stage. They opened with Andy’s song ‘Red Squirrel’. I didn’t quite know what to expect from them, but it became clear as the show progressed that the band was not one to confine itself to one type of music. I heard Beatles-inspired melodies, folk, elements of what some might call prog rock, blues, Americana, jigs and a sublime section where the entire band whipped out ukeleles and sang a kind of music hall singalong with pin-sharp harmonies and a healthy mouthful of tongue-in-cheek humour (‘You Belong To Me’). They covered songs such as ‘The Road To Venezuela’, ‘The Last Plimsoll’, a divine rendition of ‘Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometimes’ (James Warren’s Korgis side project) and a rousing version near the end of ‘Big Baby’. James’ left hand moved niftily around his Fender bass – for this tour, he was standing in for Jim Walter on the instrument – whilst Clare flourished effortlessly on violin, guitar, vocals and ukelele. Andy showed himself to be a superb guitarist, exhibiting complete control over his intricate lines and a transparent understanding of the blues in many of the songs. Glenn Tommey on keys and Eddie John on drums (’46 tomorrow…’) were consummate pros, providing a rock-solid foundation for the majesty of the front three (can you tell from this that I quite liked them?).

They did a couple of encores and left to climb the wooden stairway at the back, behind the mixer. I hung around in the lobby a little later and was delighted to say hello again to Clare, Andy & Mike whilst getting the opportunity to have a fleeting chat with James Warren & Glenn Tommey. The photos are a splendid record of a happy evening for me and I’m so glad to have finally met the band and had a chance to watch them perform. I drove back to West London with ‘A Victory For Common Sense’ on, marvelling at the twists and turns in ‘The Day The World Stopped Turning’. Any band that puts out a song called ‘Cheese And Ham‘ is OK in my book. I recommend you buy their albums forthwith.

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2 Responses

  1. Hope you have seen them again. Back down your way september 2014.

  2. Melanie – I haven’t managed to catch them again, but will check their gig listings to see if I can make another one

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