It is several years since I have been to the Half Moon in Putney. I remembered that when I last went it had been possible to park in the Street outside, but the world has changed in the last few years. For a start there are far more cars on the road. Most councils are fairly cash strapped and free parking, I thought, was something that was likely to have been relegated to the history books along with dinosaurs and audio cassettes. Not only that, but I felt there was a good chance that Boris Johnson had probably sold off the entire Upper Richmond Road to a housing conglomerate who would have turned the whole road into a forest of luxury flats. So, because I was unsure where I would be able to park, I set out early.
Absolutely amazed that I could still park in the street for nothing and that there was ample spaces. Full marks to Putney council.
Dave Cousins has been ill recently, so the Strawbs haven't played together for a while, so I have been suffering from Strawb withdrawal and was very much expecting that the rest of the world would be feeling the same and that the Half Moon would be packed. Was a bit shocked that the pub was almost empty when I arrived, and that the people who were there were just finishing off their beers prior to leaving. Had I got the wrong night? No, I was just over an hour early. The pub began to fill up, and then the doors to the backroom opened, and we were allowed in to the music venue. Managed to blag a front row seat along with one or two old friends I hadn't seen since the last Strawb concert.
The sound was perfect, the ballance was perfect, their timing was perfect, the music was perfect. All told, it was a pretty good night.
Was a little disappointed that there have been no significant changes to the set list since I last saw Strawbs, but there are several good reasons for this. Firstly, they have honed their set list over recent years to perfection. Secondly, they play to an audience many of whom have never seen the band live before who would prefer to hear their favourites rather than more esoteric songs. Thirdly, Strawbs come in two flavours: Acoustic and Electric. The Acoustic line-up, comprising Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert and Chas Cronk are every bit as good as when they are joined by a drummer and a keyboard player, but there are songs that can only be played with a full band, so they already maintain two different set lists. Not only that, but Dave Cousins has weaved a narrative round the songs so as to present a potted history of the Strawbs, from the early days at the White Bear folk club in Hounslow, through their time with Sandy Denny, with Rick Wakeman, up to the present. Of course, the band has been through many different line-up changes and evolutions from Blue Grass, to Folk Rock, to Glam Rock, to prog, to folk that it would be impossible to cover their entire history in one evening.
The Strawbs (then known as The Strawberry Hill Boys), formed in 1963, and first played at the Half Moon in Putney in 1964. I doubt whether many venues can claim that they have had the same band playing there for fifty-two years! I doubt if there are many artists just starting now that will still be perfoming in fifty-two years time.
Turn Me Round
The Man Who Called Himself Jesus
Grave New World
Oh How She Changed
The Hangman And The Papist
Shine On Silver Sun
We'll Meet Again Sometime
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