Alan Hull - vocals, guitar, keyboards; Simon Cowe - vocals, lead guitar, mandolin, banjo; Ray Jackson - vocals, mandolin, harmonica; Rod Clements - bass, guitar, violin; Ray Laidlaw - drums
Shortly after the release of their third album, Dingly Dell, and still riding the crest of success of Fog On The Tyne, released the previous year, Lindisfarne took to the roads of America, opening for the Kinks. Often lumped into the loosely defined category of British folk-rock and although compared to the groundbreakers of that genre, Fairport Convention and Pentangle, they were distinctly different. Lindisfarne relied far less on traditional folk and although those influences were certainly present, they geared toward a more melodic rock oriented sound. Driven by the lyrics and melodies of primary songwriters, Alan Hull, Simon Cowe, and Rod Clements, Lindisfarne made a mixture of bright harmonies and high energy folk-rock into a sound uniquely their own. The band's spirited live performances, along with their sense of humor and fun, were the essential elements that contributed to Lindisfarne developing a dedicated following.
This performance, recorded at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center in 1972, occurred at the best possible time to have caught the band live, as it captures the energy of that memorable first American tour. This was the era when the group's future never looked brighter. Fans of the group's first three albums will be delighted at the choice of material here, as all three of those recordings are represented, with a heavier focus toward the best material from Fog On The Tyne, along with plenty of material from Dingly Dell when it was fresh and new to audiences.
The recording begins in progress with the overtly poetic "Meet Me On The Corner," the group's hit single and one of the finest songs written by bassist Rod Clements. Simon Cowe's "Go Back" follows, recalling the simplicity and surreal imagery of Syd Barrett's post-Pink Floyd solo work. Lindisfarne continues with several tracks from the new album. "All Fall Down" and the country-style "Planktons Lament" paired with "Bring Down the Government" feature memorable melodies and catchy lyrics.
The middle of the set ventures back to earlier Alan Hull material, with "Alright The Night," a standout track from Fog On The Tyne and "Lady Eleanor." The latter song was originally on the band's debut 1970 album, Nicely Out Of Tune but when they became successful, it was reissued as a single, giving them another top 10 hit in England. Two more Dingly Dell tracks follow, with the traditional style folk song "Poor Old Ireland" and "Don't Ask Me." The latter, another Clements composition, sounds similar to Steely Dan's "Josie," years before that song was recorded. Up next is "No Time To Lose," an unreleased song at the time, which would eventually turn up as a bonus track on the Fog On The Tyne when it was reissued on CD decades later.
The remainder of the set is utterly delightful. The Dingley Dell track, "Oh No Not Again" is as infectious and humorous as ever, but it's the extended jam on the set-closing "We Can Swing Together" that is most captivating. Written by Hull about an abortive police raid on a party, it's no wonder this became one of their favorite closers, featuring an extended medley of traditional folk tunes and plenty of high energy musicianship. This is testament to the band's live abilities and a rousing conclusion to an engaging performance.