The small-scale setting of Backstage at the Green Hotel, in Kinross, provided a perfect venue last week for an appearance by Strawbs.
In various guises, the London band has been among Britain’s greatest and most versatile groups for over half a century.
Founder member and constant thread throughout their history, Dave Cousins, balanced some self-deprecating humour about getting older with insights of how some of the songs were inspired, and a few acerbic asides about the music industry and the passage of time.
Example – it had taken 47 years to write a sequel to ‘Dragonfly’, one of the tracks on the group’s second album.
Cousins’ guitar playing and vocals were complemented by enthusiastic musicianship from Dave Bainbridge (keyboards and guitar), Dave Lambert (guitar and vocals) and Tony Fernandez (drums), with solid support from bassist Chas Cronk.
The set was peppered with tracks from their new album ‘The Ferryman’s Curse’, opening with ‘The Nails From The Hands Of Christ’ and concluding with ‘We Have The Power’ as the second and final encore number.
Other new songs featured were ‘The Familiarity Of Old Lovers’ and ‘The Ten Commandments’.
Strawbs’ past incarnations famously included Rick Wakeman and Hudson Ford (the latter two names are different blokes, for the uninitiated) and, interestingly, they eschewed their biggest chart hit, the Hudson Ford-penned ‘Part Of The Union’, for more of a focus on their evolution through folk and prog rock.
Offerings included ‘Sweet Dreams’, ‘So Close And Yet So Far Away’, ‘New World’, ‘Promised Land’, ‘Out In The Cold’, ‘Lay A little On Me’, ‘Turn Me Round’, and the Campbell’s soup version – condensed – (in Cousins’ words) of ‘Hero And Heroine’.
‘Round And Round’ and ‘Down By The Sea’ were also performed, with one of their best-known pieces, ‘Lay Down’, as an encore.
Dave Cousins was reasonably sure they’d be back in Kinross in another 25 years or so and urged the audience: “Don’t be late.”
He also pointed out that the band’s biggest-selling album, ‘Hero And Heroine’, had come out in 1973 and, two years ago, was listed by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the top 50 prog rock albums of all time.
“Took ‘em bloody long enough,” he observed.