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Stackridge: The Final Bow, Bristol 2015
Final farewells can be funny things, often the feeling that yes, it was indeed time to close the book and move on present in lacklustre performances or animosity riven band line-ups. Neither of these things could be further from the truth as British progressive veterans Stackridge brought down the curtain in 2015, on what had been a 46 year stretch as cult outsiders in a genre already often on the outskirts of popular culture.
An unwillingness to plough any particular furrow could possibly be sited as why Stackridge, even with a good level of success in prog's seventies heyday, have never really quite managed to achieve the critical, or commercial breakthrough their music has long deserved. While, as is so often the case, never ending line-up reshuffles didn't exactly help either; the quintet of Andy Davis (vocals, guitar, ukulele), James Warren (vocals, bass), Clare Lindley (violin, vocals, ukulele), Glenn Tommey (keyboards, vocals, flute, trombone) and Eddie John (drums, vocals) coming together as the final five. Although long serving flute man Mutter Slater (who left the band in 2010) also appears on a couple of numbers to add to the occasion.
With a sound ranging from 60s pop to blues, straight up rock to keyboard heavy prog and that of a string led, brass infused ensemble, there's no doubt that Stackridge fit the billing 'progressive' much more succinctly than many out and out prog bands ever did. This set riding the gamut from the strings of "The Last Plimsoll" to the jaunt of "Fundamentally Yours", which sounds like a less forceful Queen jamming with Yes. Along the way everything from "Something About The Beatles" to "Lummy Days", via "Syracuse The Elephant" and "Dora The Female Explorer" confirm the stylistic about faces that occur throughout. The crowd are involved and invigorated, if limited in size, while the sound across the show is excellent, although the fade outs in between songs do suck a little of the momentum out of proceedings; very little casual stage chatter making the cut. However with Davis, Warren and Lindley all in fine voice, whether leading from the front or combining to heighten the effect, and the overall performances as tight as you'd expect from a group of veterans who've run through these songs countless times, this really is a fitting tribute to a much loved band.
Coming with a booklet mixing a historical perspective with the thoughts and emotions of some of the band's fans and which also pays respect to some of the more renowned former members, The Final Bow, Bristol 2015 is a wonderful two disc, twenty-two song strong celebration of a band who stuck to their guns and delighted many. It's never too late to discover good music, and it has to be said that Stackridge's final goodbye makes for just as strong an introduction to a vastly underrated group, as it is a fitting farewell.
1. Over The Horizon
2. The Road To Venezuela
3. The Last Plimsoll
4. Red Squirrel
5. Syracuse The Elephant
6. Fundamentally Yours
7. Highbury Incident
9. God Speed The Plough
10. Long Dark River
11. Purple Spaceships Over Yatton (with Mutter Slater)
12. All I Do Is Dream Of You
13. Fish In A Glass
14. Something About The Beatles
15. No Ones More Important Than The Earthworm
16. Lost And Found
17. Boots And Shoes
18. The Final Bow
19. Lummy Days
20. Slark (with Mutter Slater)
21. Dora The Female Explorer
22. Do The Stanley Aviator Brass (Plus Audience)
Added: July 22nd 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Final Bow at AngelAir
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