REVIEW: The Strawbs at Folk on the Coast, Bognor Town Football Club.

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What a brilliant Friday evening in Bognor – folk rock at its very best when The Strawbs headlined at a Folk on the Coast event at Bognor Town Football Club.

Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert and Chas Cronk, the line-up for this Acoustic Strawbs current UK tour, were at the very top of their game and went down a storm.

Many of the audience hadn’t seen the iconic group play live before and were probably unprepared for their magical mix of evocative numbers combined with the driving power of superb guitar-playing.

But from the opening notes of the magnificent Benedictus and Visions, everyone in the hall was totally hooked and The Strawbs scored an instant hit, sparking into life an evening which was a joy to experience.

All the favourite crowd-pleasers were there, of course, and as superb as ever, but it was also great to hear an absolutely-beautiful rendition of The Golden Salamander – first time I have heard that live.

It just got better and better, with one powerful and emotive airing after another – New World was sheer drama, Witchwood made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and the first set ended with Oh How She Changed – incredible to think that was first recorded more than 40 years ago. Also amazing to hear Dave Lambert’s voice getting better and better with each passing year.

The second set began with a wonderful rendition of Ghosts and then, for me the highlight of the evening, an incomparable airing of Autumn which kept everyone spellbound. Then there was the marvellously-harmonic and haunting Queen of Dreams and the stunning Cold Steel.

Lay Down brought the audience to their feet as the evening drew to a close. There was a well-deserved standing ovation – my hands actually hurt from clapping so hard and so long – which brought The Strawbs back on stage to play the beautiful Shine on Silver Sun.

Let’s hope we see them again in Bognor before too long – word of mouth from listeners who hung on every word and note is sure to guarantee them a much bigger audience next time.

Phil Hewitt