Oysterband are right up there with other iconic noisy political bands. Their hard-hitting lyrics, energy and sheer enthusiasm on stage clothed in black leather, is what stands out in my memory. But this year they are celebrating 40 years of touring together. And they are still friends! They've come a long, long way since their out-of-character 'Day Trip to Bangor' hit as Fiddlers Dram (No 3 in January 1980), even before John Jones joined.
I asked him if the band is still political or have they gone a bit soft nowadays.
He laughed. "As you get a bit older you see it all in multi-colours. It becomes harder to write political songs. You have to wear your heart on your sleeve - see it all in black and white, - be angry. But it is a strange time in our country at the moment and the country is well divided so maybe the time is right. We are actually returning to anger this year!"
Meanwhile, I asked what Oyster 3 is all about.
"It's about the three of us originals going back to the beginning and telling our story. We revisit our numbers from every era - Oyster Ceilidh Band right up to the present, with stories and anecdotes, mostly from Ian. It is a theatre performance, but very acoustic."
They had their theatre audience in the palms of their hands, joining in choruses and clapping along from the opening number on stage until the truly acoustic encore, sung among the audience, with no PA at all. It earned them a standing ovation.
The stripped-back acoustic delivery of a selection of their folk-rock songs was refreshing and inspiring. The musicianship was excellent, even when they led themselves down instrumental paths they didn't expect. It was an occasion to recall that both John Jones and Alan Prosser have great singing voices too, without effects. As well as being a virtuoso fiddle player, Ian Telfer really could make it as a stand-up comedian. His many hilarious anecdotes delivered in his laconic Falkirk accent with superb timing and droll humour had us in stitches.
I now have a new refreshed memory of The Oysterband, sitting on stage in casual dark clothing - apart from Ian's tartan trousers, perhaps. He bought them as Bay City Rollers' cast-offs, he claims.
I name my new Oysters memory 'Leatherless'.
I do thoroughly recommend this Oyster 3 tour. It is a cracking night out. And roll on the anger in 2017.
'Uncle' Tony Hayes
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