Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Nice music, shame about the cause

I went to a concert on Saturday evening at Highclere Castle, near Newbury. It was a rock concert, so a bit of a departure for me (I haven't been to a rock gig since university, and St Andrews wasn't really a noted gig venue, so you can imagine the quality of bands who usually played at the Students' Union). The big "but" is that it was a charity concert in aid of the Countryside Alliance.

I feel rather ambivalent about the Countryside Alliance, who seem to be set on preserving the traditions of hunting, shooting and fishing that to me, as an urban lass, seem unnecessarily cruel and reactionary. I agree that foxes and other vermin who prey on farm animals should be killed, but humanely. Of course, the vast majority of the audience which turned up on Saturday afternoon with their picnic hampers and collapsible chairs did not refute the stereotype: the place was a sea of Barbour coats in navy blue or dark green, hats and wellies. Admittedly, this was sensible attire, for it had been raining on Friday and for part of Saturday morning. G and I rather stood out in our Sprayway waterproof jackets in sea-green and lilac, and walking boots. We walked to Highclere from our B&B about four miles away, and it was rather funny to see all the 4x4s in the car park (walking actually turned out to be a wise decision, as it took us far less time to get out than the car drivers).

As for the concert itself, which did not receive much publicity, perhaps because the Hyde Park concert for the Prince's Trust also happened on the same evening, well, I enjoyed it. The support acts were pretty bland, which wasn't helped by the low amplification (and the poor diction of most of the performers). Bryan Ferry did a short set of about four songs, including Jealous Guy and Stick Together, before being replaced by the "Band du Lac". This was a kind of supergroup of ageing rockers led by Gary Brooker of Procul Harum, and included Paul Carrack and Mike Rutherford. Even Jeremy Clarkson turned up in the inevitable sheepskin jacket to show his support and crack a few jokes.

A couple of the backing singers strutted their stuff in two songs, one of which was a very slinky I Just Wanna Make Love To You. Guests who appeared and then went off again after their couple of numbers were Georgie Fame (who was excellent, with a lively Say Yeah Yeah amongst others), Andy Fairweather-Low (who?), Roger Waters and Nick Mason (who joined in with a lovely version of Wish You Were Here and a not so great one of Comfortably Numb), and the man almost everyone had come to see, Eric Clapton. There were a couple of blues numbers, including Cocaine, by J. J. Cale (as well as Clapton's own sickly Wonderful Tonight), and a Bob Marley song, Get Up, Stand Up, which seemed almost indecent in that setting: the struggles of the Countryside Alliance in keeping their way of life compared to the black civil rights struggle? Still, a cracking song. They finished up with Bob Dylan's Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, which was much better than Dylan's version (but then I think most versions are).

It didn't rain, though it was pretty chilly for most of the evening. Still, we got well warmed up walking back in the dark (which was very dark indeed, no moon to light the way).


At Sun Jun 04, 01:10:00 pm, Blogger Who is this Dave? said...

Mr C talks about the concert in his piece in the Motoring section of today's Times.

I wouldn't bother to rush out to buy it just for the couple of paragraphs though - unless, that is, you're also looking for a sporty new van.


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