Woolly Wolstenholme and Maestoso

Live at the UCL Bloomsbury, 27th November, 2004

[Supporting Caravan]

Advert for the Bloomsbury concert

Band line-up:

Woolly Wolstenholme (lead vocals, Mellotron, keyboards, guitar)
Steve Broomhead (lead guitar, vocals)
Craig Fletcher (bass, vocals)
Jeff Leach (keyboards)
Kim Turner (drums)
  plus special guest John Lees (guitar and lead vocals on "River Of Dreams" and "Galadriel")

Set list:

The Bells, THE BELLS!; Deceivers All; In Search Of England; Souk; The Iron Maiden; Poor Wages; Harbour; River Of Dreams; Galadriel; Has To Be A Reason; A Prospect Of Whitby; Early Morning; The Poet/After The Day

Reviews and Pics:

On stage at the UCL Bloomsbury [photo: Paula Aldrich]

Still groggy, but here's a quick precis

Venue - Good
Sound - Not brilliant, especially Woolly's vocal mics
Woolly - On good form
John - Turned up for two songs in the middle of the set (River of Dreams and Galadriel)
Finale - The Poet & After The Day
Gig - Wouldn't have missed it for the world!

How's that?

Sue Curtis

I'll add a bit more to Sue's comments!

> Venue - Good

A really nice theatre, approx 400 seats in the stalls and about 95% full for Woolly.

> Sound - Not brilliant, especially Woolly's vocal mics

Apparently they didn't get a sound check, which really did spoil the first 20 minutes or so until they got it somewhere near acceptable.

> Woolly - On good form

Ooohh, I've forgot me jingly bits.....at the intro for A Prospect of Whitby

> John - Turned up for two songs in the middle of the set (River of Dreams > and Galadriel)

An added bonus, the sound was sorted by then and Galadriel was classic.

> Finale - The Poet & After The Day

The classic BJH sound of the early 70's, a reminder of how great they were!

> Gig - Wouldn't have missed it for the world!

Same here, on a whole the gig was more enjoyable than the Mean Fiddler, they went down really well with the 'neutrals', just a pity there's not more of them.....gigs that is

Rob Price

Kim and Woolly backstage - when are we on again? [photo: Paula Aldrich] Caravan were excellent (although it did seem strange to have the support band on second...). They played a good set of mostly old material together with a number of songs from their new and I would recommend "Unauthorised Breakfast Item" album. I haven't seen Caravan since the night before I first saw BJH in 1974. There was no competition then and there isn't now but they are good and interesting. Not many bands use spoons and a pair of garden shears.

Enough of Caravan. Wasn't it a blistering rendition of Souk? I really liked Woolly placing his finger in his ear after the quiet opening ready for Steve to hit us with his guitar (and didn't he!).

It was really good to see John come on stage. I thought he looked really relaxed and this seems to bode well for future projects. Luckily the sound had picked up by this point though it never seemed to be remedied on Woolly's front mike.

I regard Harbour as one of Woolly's best songs and it was great to hear this once again followed by a powerful, as opposed to gentle, Early Morning. Poor Wages, which must be one of the most obscure of the BJH catalogue, has also always been a favourite of mine. It was quite incredible to hear it at the Mean Fiddler and the extended version last night was terrific.

Coming home this morning I turned on my computer to see if any reviews had appeared on the web site and discovered that Maestoso are back in the studio again. So, terrific concert, unexpected appearance of John and another album. What an excellent 24 hours.

Patrick Bond

An excellent night, marred only by terrible mixing - half the time you couldn't hear the lead vocals, and 'them' pushing off to the pub without telling 'us' which pub!!!!


Dominic Scott

Have to agree with Rob's perception of the atmosphere. The hall was clean and comfortable against the Mean Fiddler which was, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit of a dive!

In spite of the problems with the sound balance, the atmosphere was good and as Woolly put it when we were walking to the pub 'he thought it was crap... but then he was on the inside looking out whereas, we (the audience) were on the outside looking in'

Bit deep for me, but I got the gist!

The atmoshpere in the pub was also very warm and John & Woolly spent a lot of time in conversation which from across the room gave me the impression that here were two old mates enjoying each other's company and banter.

Robert Ironmonger

Tom, Woolly and special guest [photo: Paula Aldrich] The gig.....

Well as everyone has said the sound was c%$*p & worry not I spent a fair time rubbing it into the soundman after the show in the pub.

The set was fabulous the choice of songs wonderful & to see John again was good, BUT was not the real high for me, that was seeing my pal having fun up on stage again & chatting to everyone afterwards.

I had the pleasure of sitting next to Olwen through the show & hearing her singing along to the old ones was good - that sounds very condescending but I can't figure another way of saying it except maybe, she seemed to be enjoying it a lot.

Chatting to John after the gig in the bar he said he enjoyed the choice of music in the set & he was really pleased to hear After the Day & he seemed chuffed when he said 'I wrote that':-)

Paula Aldrich

Did anyone notice what was written on their ticket? On mine it said "With support from Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestros". !!! :o)

I thought that Woolly and his band were hot, and performed a superb set. Kim Turner, in particular, excelled with some exceptionally powerful drumming (he really hit those skins like he hated them!).

It was particularly good to hear Woolly play early BJH classics, such as 'Early Morning' and 'Poor Wages'. The focus (this time) seemed to be less on promoting 'One Drop', but more on winning round Caravan fans with sublime examples of the early BJH sound. The band's closing number, 'The Poet/After The Day', was especially wonderful.

The highlight of Woolly's set, though, was when a certain guest artist arrived on the stage. In the pub, prior to the gig, I had heard the rumours about who might be appearing. Woolly referred to the rumours on stage and said they were all lies! At precisely that moment, John Lees walked out onto the stage! :o) The place erupted! Woolly, Steve and Kim then departed, as John beautifully sang 'River Of Dreams', accompanied by Jeff Leach (on keyboard) and Craig Fletcher (on bass). Following this, Woolly and Kim returned to the stage, and the familiar magical sounds of the opening bars of 'Galadriel' could be heard. The performance of this song was quite lovely. John's excellent high vocals, and sensitive guitar playing, combined with Woolly's fabulous Mellotron work - sheer bliss! Thankfully, I own exceptional live recordings of both these songs on the 'Revival - Live' CD - so (by programming the CD) I can replay those magic moments for ever.

David Simmons

John Lees coming on to sing a couple of songs, while Woolly and band was on was added bonus ...that voice... also got to speak to them both on way out.

"Asleep In The Back" [taken from the Caravan discussion forum at www.caravan-info.co.uk]

Yes great fun, despite Jim losing his voice. Jan was terrific and Geoff's spoons sounded better than I've ever heard them before! And the support was great too - good to see Woolly looking so cheerful after his recent bout of depression.

"Rog" [taken from the Caravan discussion forum at www.caravan-info.co.uk]

Group hug (captions, please!) [photo: Paula Aldrich] Great second date of the 'world tour' on Saturday at the Bloomsbury. Really nice to have a very different set listing from the earlier concert. A superb mix of the old and the new. It was absolutely tremendous that John was a surprise special guest - his voice is like a fine wine (getting better and better with maturity) His two contributions just 'blew me away' and took me back to the wonderful when BJH were playing to full houses at large venues (and we were all younger!)

Deceivers All was a fantastic start and what an ending with Poet and After the Day - Superb!

Shame about the sound mix for some of the numbers, but for a devotee like myself it didn't really spoil what was a truly amazing experience and one that I really hope will be repeated again soon.

Dudley Ferdinando, Steve and Richard

I will say more tomorrow but something that went through my mind was David's remark from the Mean Fiddler gig which I did not attend when he quoted the Bard


Super, Smashing, Lovely....
To borrow a quote:

"And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here"

I was there on Saturday and now I know what he meant!

The "surprise" had my jaw dropping! Yes, the sound balance was not good for at least the first three songs but it got better. In the interval Keith explained to me that if there had been a proper tour, these problems would get ironed out. Several of you have commented on keeping the momentum going.

John's RoD was the pared-down, slow version.

Both Woolly and John looked so happy and relaxed.

"Poor Wages" was such a treat as was "Early Morning". I can't remember such an emotional concert.

I didn't stay for Caravan as, like Maria Callas, I can't take mediocrity after excellence - apologies to Caravan fans, I know nothing about their repetoire. They may be good but I'd love what I'd heard. I went in search of dinner so I missed you all. Enjoyed meeting up with some of you before the show!

2005 is looking good!

Note to Woolly, I'll be signing up for those belly-dancing classes!

Claire Powell

Having travelled to London for the gig (and for a nice weekend in good old England including a football match - West Ham vs Watford -, a few fine ales, a visit to Tate Modern and some fish and chips) I have to say that I absolutely enjoyed being there.

Yes, the sound was distracting from the overall experience and whereas drums/guitars were too loud for my liking: The gig rocked! I felt that the band were enjoying themselves, especially given the fact that this was another "one-off" which, I guess, makes it difficult to relax as a musician.

Of course John's appearance was a highlight of the show - what a voice this man still has!

The sound quality - it seemed to me - improved from "River Of Dreams" onwards and so for me the best bits of the show were River Of Dreams, Has To Be A Reason (a Woolly classic!) and The Poet/After The Day.

Personally I'd have preferred to hear some more material from One Drop In A Dry World such as the marvellous Blood And Bones, the-single-that-did-not-happen Waiting Game, my favourite 2 a.m. or the magic Carpet...

After the gig I took the decision to stay for Caravan (and therefore miss out on the pub!). They played well, their sound was quite good, but the songs apart from the folkier bits (or I could say the Geoffrey Richardson bits) did not do it for me.

Great to see some familiar faces again - Keith, Monika and the kids of course, but also Damian Blakemore and Steve Hingley both of whom I first met in Germany in 1993 at BJH concerts... Hopefully there'll be more occasions like these in the future!

Matthias Oeschger

Live at the Mean Fiddler, 12th May, 2004

Advert for the Mean Fiddler concert

Band line-up:

Woolly Wolstenholme (lead vocals, Mellotron, keyboards, guitar)
Steve Broomhead (lead guitar, vocals)
Craig Fletcher (bass, vocals)
Jeff Leach (keyboards)
Kim Turner (drums)

Set list:

The Bells, THE BELLS!; Deceivers All; Has To Be A Reason; In Search Of England; Explorers; The Iron Maiden; Sunday Bells; Souk; Poor Wages; The Poet/After The Day; The Will To Fly; A Prospect Of Whitby; Blood and Bones; Harbour; Early Morning; Too Much, Too Loud, Too Late; Carpet; Deceivers All (encore)

Reviews and Pics:

'Now, which is the pre-wash cycle?'... Woolly at the Mean Fiddler 'A setting sun!' The original Maestoso reunited - Steve, Kim and Woolly 'What was that album called, again?'  Craig Fletcher plays straight man (and occasional bass) 'We will, we will rock you - oops, wrong show'. Jeff Leach keeps a low profile

Photos by Rob Price - click on the thumbnail for a larger version.

Rob Price's Review and more photos

Excellent performance by Woolly and the Maestoso band in London last night. Superb songs, especially "The Poet/After the Day" and "Early Morning" which was dedicated to Mel.

Clive and Fred

A classic night...great set and many thanks Woolly and band.

Rick Wright

What a brilliant concert!
The choice of material and delivery was excellent. I suppose it was asking too much for Woolly to perform "American Excess" (my call) and "Ursula" as encores. But after the unbelievable performance of "The Poet/After The Day" anything seemed possible! Woke today in my hotel singing it (well trying, and badly I guess). So sad that no Manchester gig tonight, but will settle for the pure quality last night, rather than quantity. Desperate for the new album to arrive. In the meantime, signing-off to play the John Young CD I bought last night (a fine support).
Kind Regards,

Clive Courbet

A bit new to this groups/site thing ... so apologies for my late review! (That's if I ever work out how to get it posted to the site, that is!) Wed night was fantastic. Never seen Woolly's band before - always been a bit of a BJH purist. But hey - I'm glad I've seen the error of my ways! And I'm even more glad to know I'm not on my lonesome and there are more fans out there. Frankly, I thought I was a bit of a dying breed ... apart from one other BJH fan who just happens to live in my street (weird!) ... I was beginning to think we were nearing extinction! So we were both there, and we had a ball!

The music was ace. Woolly's lost none of his talent, nor his voice ... though his looks have improved mightily I might add! (Love the photo with the shades in the CD!) I thought John Young was OK - but what a difference a drummer makes, and a good drummer to boot. Kim was great. Give me a band with the soul and drive of a drummer behind it any day. And Steve - what can I say. I really enjoyed watching him play - luckily I was stood on the right side (or the left as it were!) and for once, being a short-arse, was close enough to the front to actually see! I never realised he played on Mandalaband Prophecies. How did I miss the formation of Mæstoso ? Fool! I've missed out on so much!! Still I'm putting that right - listened to 'One Drop In A Dry World' all weekend ... and I love Blood and Bones and The Souk, and oddly enough Explorers and Starving People too. And I've now ordered the other Mæstoso CD's - so I'll soon be humming along like an old pro! (As an aside - in the intervening years - have Steve or Kim played with any other bands?)

I've got so much catching up to do - but at least now though I should be assured of knowing when the next concert is (there'd better be one). And maybe of even finding out which pub to meet in before hand!

Thanks and congrats to all. Hope to see you all again before too long!

Wendie Stone

What A Gig!!!
Just got home, after an absolutely brilliant gig. Do not know what to say about it, other than I wish it could have been longer!!! Some surprise songs in the set and Woolly's brilliant humour. I am just glad I went, though I missed people in the pub, as I was slightly later than I intended.      Gary Faulkner

Just got home from the Mean Fiddler and as the wife's asleep, I just had to report to somebody what a great night it was. To hear Early Morning, Poor Wages, The Poet/After the Day plus all Woolly's other stuff was just perfect, and what a great band Maestoso are. A really fun evening as well as great music. Well done lads!      Crispin Rooney (Fan from 1970)

Just home too...... May there be many more shows... it was fabulous. When we last saw Woolly on stage for the Nexus tour my husband said 'he comes alive up there, he's a different guy...' it's true, Woolly is a great guy at the best of times, but is sparkling & vibrant on stage. The choice of music was great, the company we shared the floor with was great & I even got the long waited for kiss from Kim..... for me that was worth the whole night!!!! The band were superb & I look forward to many, many more shows, not least as I love all the kissing bits at the end!!!! I look forward to seeing the photos, video & hearing the tape of the show. Lovely to meet you all,      Paula

Yep, just back, pigeon greeted and coffee made. A truly awe-inspiring performance, good selection of songs and Woolly really gave it a personal atmosphere. Also impressed by the quality of the sound system (Soundcraft mixing desk - Doug Self, who designs for Soundcraft, is to analogue audio design what Woolly is to mellotrons!) Shame the CD wasn't there in time to get to know the new material - but although I find it difficult to appreciate a song live if I'm hearing it for the first time, this was much less the case here than at other bands' gigs I've been to. Another plus for Woolly as a performer. Also admired the way he strolled out from backstage to meet us afterwards! He is The Man! It was good too to meet other listers and get to know the faces behind the email addresses. Makes the whole list thing much less impersonal, and much more fun than turning up to a gig on your own (as most of us did) and being totally surrounded by complete strangers. Finally I'd like to say thanks once again to Woolly for playing such an excellent gig and to Keith and Monika for all their behind-the-scenes hard work!      Pigeon

Arise Sir Woolly !!
Just got back from a fabulous gig! Woolly (resplendent in a Persil white shirt ... to match his hair) and his band were on top form. Woolly made everyone laugh by joking about this being the first and last date of the tour. The focus of Woolly's set was on songs from the new album and from 'Black Box'. Although there was still time for some nice surprises ... in the form of some early BJH classics!

SET LIST (not in order)

Early Morning (sung for Mel)
Poor Wages
The Iron Maiden
The Poet
After The Day

LATE BJH SONGS (both from XII)
In Search Of England

A Prospect Of Whitby

Deceivers All (the opening song and solitary encore!)
Has To Be A Reason
Too Much, Too Loud, Too Late
The Will To Fly
Sunday Bells

There were, of course, several songs from 'One Drop In A Dry World' - but seeing that no-one (bar K&M) has heard the album yet it's a bit pointless trying to remember the titles (!) OK - if you insist - I think they played 'Souk' and 'Blood and Bones', and there was also one about a carpet. :o) The songs they played all seemed quite heavy, compared with some of the earlier material. I was disappointed that there was only one song from 'Maestoso' - although 'A Prospect Of Whitby' is one of my favourites. It was great to hear the 'Black Box' songs sung live for the first time though. 'Deceivers All' was so good they played it twice! :o) 'The Will To Fly' was sung very movingly by Woolly, backed sensitively by Jeff Leach on piano. The highlights of the gig (for me) were undoubtedly 'The Poet' / 'After The Day' and 'Early Morning' (movingly dedicated to Mel). Woolly's backing musicians supported him admirably. I thought that Steve Broomhead and Kim Turner were particularly superb. The cherry on the cake was the opportunity to meet Woolly and the band after the gig. I was lucky enough to get my concert ticket signed by Woolly. Other fans were getting items of clothing signed! I tell you, it was like a David Cassidy concert. :o) I also had a chat with Steve Broomhead, who was a really nice guy. He told me that 'Patriots' is his favourite track from 'Maestoso'. It's a bloody shame they didn't play it, that's all I can say! Finally, it was great to put faces to so many names on this list. I won't mention anyone by name, as there are too many of you, and I don't want to leave anyone out - but you are a great bunch of guys (and gals).      David Simmons

P.S. Did Woolly really not expect to get an encore?!!! I find it amazing that all he could think of for the solitary encore was a repeat of the opening track (!). I mean, there are 8 tracks from 'Maestoso' they could have played! :o)

Great concert last night. The three of us who came down from Bedford had a fantastic time and the set list Woolly did was just perfect! What an entertainer as well! The candle by the keyboard in Blood and Bones was brilliant. It was a shame we had to leave promptly at the end as we didn't get to meet Woolly and you all at the end. The show would have made a fantastic live CD. I suppose the event wasn't recorded with a view to a CD being issued? I really think the sales of a CD with the mix of stuff that Woolly played last night would sell loads of copies. This is the format that many of the 'mature' performers like Steve Hackett for example seem to have succeeded with and hence widen their support base.

Thanks again for an enjoyable and memorable night. Please pass on thanks to Woolly.      Dudley Ferdinando

Woolly RULES.....
hei everyone - I've just got back to Norway (10.55 UK time). Andreas and I got approx 2 hours sleep, before our flights earlier today..... All I can add to the comments made is:-

Woolly, you are truly a genius.....you all performed a memorable gig, and I was proud to be there and shake your hand..

May it happen again soon...

I also echo Pigeon's thoughts about meeting list members. This added to a wonderful evening. I hadn't seen Mike Melnyk for about 10 years - says he reads these messages so be nice to see you post, Mike. Bazza, sorry I missed you - maybe see you at Tim Christensen gig in Oslo....

Long may Woolly rule!      (a very tired) Patrick - Norway

Phew! finally got home after driving through the night, I never knew London was that far!!!....Lol! Well, quite a night to remember, it began around 4pm at the "Moon and sixpence", and proceeded to get better from there on in.... A brief mention must be made of support act John Young (without his band), excellent enjoyable set, came across as a warm and friendly guy......... I did a quick head count before the gig and counted around 140/150 devotees....(About the same as the last time I saw Mostly Autumn and Wishbone Ash) so hardly a disaster. I can't really add a lot to what has been said so far about the maestro, but right from the off Woolly proved he had lost none of his trademark sense of humour when he announced "Welcome to the first, AND LAST night of the tour, ah! well at least it cuts down on travelling expenses".....:-) An excellent set, possibly could have done with a bit more rehearsal (imo), mind you he has not been on stage since Manchester 2001, highlights for me were , Deceivers All, SOUK, In Search of England, and best of all an AWESOME rendition of The Poet/After the day, (I even saw Keith tapping his feet along to that one:-) A brilliant performance by Steve Broomhead (Brush) as well btw. After the show, Woolly (and the rest of the band) made themselves available for autographs, a chat and a joke etc, just like the good old days... It is to be hoped the same mistake is not repeated as in 2001, and more dates can somehow quickly be added, (perhaps smaller not so ambitious) to keep the momentum going..... In conclusion, it was great meeting up with many of my "cyber" internet chums, and putting faces to names, especially Rob, James, David S, Keith, Monika, Graham,(Mr. Mostly Autumn) Rob I, David W, Patrick, Pigeon, Dominic (what a star he is), Paula, Lyell, Sue, Andreas,(all the way from Berlin) Evelyn and friend from Switzerland, Paul, Gordon and even Bazza who was incognito......:-) Regards to all,( Especially those who didn't make it)      Alan Hesketh

Just back in not so sunny Bath after a great evening with Woolly and the band. Great to see Woolly on fine form in both his wit and music. Woolly, thanks for signing the front of my shirt - sorry that I let you down by not being a woman as you said you would have enjoyed that more ! The interaction between Woolly, the Band and everyone just made it a night to remember. And we look forward to more ! A well balanced and refreshing set. The Poet / After the Day was one of the true highlights of the evening. A fine band and with some exceptionally solid drumming from Kim Turner - being down at the front I reckon my ears have just about recovered now.... Credit also to John Young ( yes John I agreed with eveything you said ! ) who was excellent, one of the best support acts I've heard in a long time. Good to see K & M as ever ( and many thanks for all your hard work to make this happen ) along with a number of familiar faces and the chance to meet some new people.I'm sure we'll all be there again next time !      Steve Hingley

'Why do the girls never ask me to sign the front of their T-shirts?' Steve gets autographed whilst Marco looks on

Photo by Dominic Scott - click on the thumbnail for a larger version

[for more, see http://homepage.mac.com/dominicscott/WoollyWolstenholme/PhotoAlbum33.html]

Super, Smashing, Lovely....
To borrow a quote:

"And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here"

Not a great deal to add re the gig last night. It was truly the concert I've been waiting many a long year for. I was expecting good but got excellent. The set list was a personal delight and got better and better as the night unfolded. Maybe I'm a little less than fully objective but I don't think the band was under-rehearsed, one or two rough edges to the sound maybe but a very powerful, driving set was delivered with enthusiasm and a great deal of humour. What more could one ask?

John Young wasn't at all bad, but his mix was a little overpowering and lacked clarity. Good solid material (if a little AOR uninspired) - I'd like to hear a bit more of his stuff before making a final judgement. But after all I didn't go to see him, so he was more of an added bonus.

High spots:
Meeting so many listers at the Moon & 6d and afterwards.
Alan leaving his joke book behind (LOL).
Kim Turner - not usually a drummist fan but he impressed. A real powerhouse!
Craig doing his best to upstage Woolly's intros.
Paula going all weak at the knees - "I thought Kim was cute 20 years ago - and he still is". We nearly had to pick her off the floor after the kiss ;-)
Strange conversations with an incognito Mr. F.
Wilson, Kepple and Betty! Kim (pith helmet), Craig (fez) and Monika (attempted belly dance) during Souk. Craig agreed after the show there should have been boxes of sand.
Meeting all and sundry afterwards - a more approachable bunch you'd be hard pressed to find.
Woolly: "Anyone seen me mac? It's got me keys in it and I'll be locked out"
...and of course the performance.

Low spots:
Only one - Headlining artist's "dressing room" - more a grafitti ridden large cupboard with a loo attached.
Thanks a million Woolly (and band) last night will have a place of honour in my memory for ever.      David Witts

Art, as they say, is subjective. Sometimes it is the small and unexpected that has the greater impact.

I was down in London on the Saturday before Woolly's gig, next door at the Astoria, to see Mostly Autumn. A great gig - but it had been perhaps a bit over-hyped as "even better" than the highly successful York gig last September, which it certainly was not, imo (no choir, no 'Gap Is Too Wide', and no encore for starters): it was a highly accomplished performance, but I guess I'd been led to expect too much.

Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso, on the other hand, surpassed all expectations. What a highly accomplished outfit this is: tight and rocking, with some excellent guitar work and tremendous powerhouse drumming from Woolly's old Maestoso stalwarts Steve Broomhead and Kim Turner, accompanied by strong bass work from Craig Fletcher and the clever keyboards of Jeff Leach. I guess it was inevitable though that the star of the show was going to be Woolly Wolstenholme: an inspired keyboard player, a talented acoustic guitarist, and a great wit to boot! I always thought Barclay James Harvest took themselves just a bit too seriously, but I saw another side to them when John and Woolly did their three-date UK tour a few years ago, during which some of Woolly's quips had me in stitches (my favourite was from Bristol, introducing the rearranged 'Mocking Bird': "This is a song you'll recognise; it's got a bit extra on the front, but then haven't we all!"). So for Woolly to quip at the London gig (I am paraphrasing): "this is the first night of the tour, and it's also the last one! We've decided to save money by having the first night celebrations and the end of the tour party all together!" is very much the hallmark of the man back on form: irrepressible, rising above the turmoil of his recent illness and the disappointment of cancelled dates. A single candle lit later in the show seemed to continue the joke, and more fun was had from the "silly hats" during 'Souk'.

Overall, the new material seems to lack the strong melodic hooks of the early BJH classics, but it is nevertheless intriguingly progressive, and will no doubt reward careful and repeated listening. 'One Drop In A Dry World' might just be Woolly's finest moment to date, with the mesmeric 'Souk' promising to be one of its highlights. The most emotional moments of the gig for longstanding fans, however, was surely the inclusion of a generous smattering of the old classics, by which Woolly breathed new life into the spirit of Barclay James Harvest. The first-ever live performance of the tremendously haunting 'Early Morning' (which lyrically set out the Barclays' stall from the very beginning) would be a very special event in itself - but to have it dedicated to the memory of Mel Pritchard is one of those emotional moments that live in the memory forever. Most of the old classics were Woolly compositions, although John Lees was acknowledged by an epic performance of 'After The Day' following on from Woolly's own wistful 'The Poet'. Some Woolly classics such as 'Beyond The Grave', 'Sea Of Tranquility', and 'Patriots' were missing, and will hopefully surface on another occasion, but the inclusion of another rarity from the mists of the Barclay's dawn, 'Poor Wages' was an inspired choice, and the unexpected extended guitar soloing on this number is another illustration of the sort of thing which transforms a great concert into a truly memorable occasion.

It's a tremendous shame, and a great injustice, that a band of this high calibre should be confined to a one-off gig playing to a couple of hundred faithful fans - even more so when you consider the heights of acclaim that the Barclays have reached over the years - and hopefully something will become of tentative plans to tour as a support to the likes of Caravan. (Imagine the possibilities, since Caravan, a class act in their own right, have a history of playing with orchestral accompaniment). Maestoso may not be Barclay James Harvest, but the spirit is very much there, with perhaps a sharpened progressive edge. Keep on rocking Woolly, and I wish the entire line-up of this band a great future together.

Graham Wheelwright

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