Ravens and Lullabies Band, Poole, Dorset - 26 April 2014

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Ravens and Lullabies Band, Poole, Dorset - 26 April 2014

Postby Roger » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:23 am

As a fan of Gordon’s during the 70s, it was great to rediscover both the man and his music 11 years ago. I remember well that gig at Liphook in April 2003 where he played an acoustic solo set. It goes with saying that we both really enjoyed a fine performance from him, but at the back of my mind I wondered if the musician who had produced the brilliant “Fear of the Dark” would ever pick up an electric guitar on stage again or ever play with a supporting band, or even record another prog rock masterpiece? Well we all have our dreams ............ and fortunately for me I didn’t have too long to wait for the electric guitar as Gordon started performing “The Dodos’ Dream” (in 2006 I think) on stage. Then last year came the highly-acclaimed “Ravens and Lullabies”, a welcome return to the prog rock fold for Mr Giltrap. Now it’s a Saturday night in April 2014 - there I was with Em, standing in front of the stage waiting for Gordon to appear with a full band, due in no small part to a certain Mr Oliver Wakeman. Time for a quick pinch of my arm to check that I wasn’t dreaming :D

Following an opening set from the singer and the keyboard player from Galahad, the “Ravens & Lullabies” band appeared and launched straight into the excellent, high tempo “Moneyfacturing”, driven along by the very robust drumming of Johanne James, who along with Steve Anderson (bass) provided a very tight rhythm section. This song really set the bar for the night and what followed didn’t disappoint! Nick Kendall was impressive on electric guitar, while the vocals of Paul Manzi were always more than powerful enough when the band were at full tilt, but also subtle and expressive when appropriate, such as on “Ravens will Fly Away” (his best performance of the night I think) and “Is this the last Song I Write?” Gordon and Oliver were positioned at either end of the front of the stage and little needs to be said about their musical abilities - Gordon looking very relaxed and obviously enjoying every minute, while I didn’t realise how much tap dancing a keyboard maestro has to do during the course of a set :) (we were standing just in front of Oliver!)

The first part of an almost 2 hour set comprised of more “Ravens” tracks along with songs from both Gordon’s and Oliver’s solo albums, such as “Mother’s Ruin” and “Roots”, all of which gelled together very well. At the end of this part of the set it was obvious what a superb band this really was, capable of performing slower and quieter numbers or operating at full power with equal ability. The other great thing was there was no sign of any egos either ; this was a true band effort with none of the pretentiousness than can sometimes be associated with prog - there was plenty of humour and banter between tracks, or even during them from Paul Manzi! I think the best quip of the night was when Oliver referred to Gordon as the “Susanna Reid” of the music business :) Nice to see Nick Kendall invited to centre stage for his solos too!

In what seemed like no time at all Gordon and Oliver were left by themselves to perform some “gentler” songs, and at one point Gordon was entirely alone while performing “Five Dollar Guitar”. Then back came the full band and a return to full power in every respect, “Elizabethan Pirates” and the epic “Is this the Last Song I write?” being highlights. Then, just as you thought things couldn’t get any better the musical legend of King Crimson, UK and Asia fame, Mr John Wetton, appeared from the shadows to perform vocals on a cracking version of “ Heat of the Moment”. Was this the highlight of a wonderful night? Under most circumstances I would have said a resounding “yes“, but I mean no disrespect to John Wetton when I say that it wasn’t. For me the encore of “Heartsong” was the pinnacle of the gig, with brilliant performances from everyone involved, especially Steve Anderson. What a way to end the night! By the way did I hear a few notes from “The Carnival” slipped in, or was it just my imagination? :)

As we drove back to Southsea we were left to reflect on a superb evening in every respect. The only slightly sombre feeling I had was that the “Ravens and Lullabies” tour was close to it’s end and so the question is will this marvellous band that oozed so much class ever perform together again after Swindon? I sincerely hope so.
We all have fears and can feel fragile - that's what makes us human

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Bob Wilson
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Re: Ravens and Lullabies Band, Poole, Dorset - 26 April 2014

Postby Bob Wilson » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:23 pm

Great write-up Roger!!!!
I'm only sad that, due to circumstances, I was not able to see any of the bands gigs. We had hoped to get to Poole and/or Swindon but, alas, it was not to be. Hopefully this will be repeated again at some time and we will, hopefully, make one of the gigs.
Best to you both
Bob and Jane
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Re: Ravens and Lullabies Band, Poole, Dorset - 26 April 2014

Postby keithmeredith » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:23 pm

A first class evaluation, Roger. Your astute observations reflect precisely our experience and enjoyment of the band at Bilston.

I also totally agree with the sentiments expressed in your last paragraph - we must hope that the Ravens & Lullabies band can emulate the phoenix and entertain us again with their superlative musicianship.

Best regards,


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Re: Ravens and Lullabies Band, Poole, Dorset - 26 April 2014

Postby Russ Gannicott » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:14 am

Fantastic review Roger - I almost felt I was there....which indeed I would have been if circumastances allowed! As it happens, I was involved with engineering a three day Belgian beer festival which commenced with Ash's Blues Machine on Friday night, a young band from Belgium on Saturday and then Galahad on Sunday. Stu Nicolson filled me in on the previous night and had nothing but praise for the 'Ravens' band. Still hope I get the chance to see this first hand....

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