Barclay James Harvest Through The Eyes Of John Lees:
The Nexus Tour, 1999
Set List:-She Said
For No One
The Iron Maiden
Hors d'Oeuvres/Mocking Bird
River Of Dreams
Poor Man's Moody Blues
New Song (possibly entitled "Love Went Down On Me")
Brave New World
Loving Is Easy
ReviewsStuttgart Leonberg, 12/04/99
They started with a thunderous version of "She Said" - a great classic, a perfect start! “Festival! was almost as powerful, a perfect fit. The guitar out of tune on "Mocking Bird" and some bum notes on "Brother Thrush" and "Galadriel" proved that everything was live. John and Woolly seemed to enjoy themselves, and we fans had a perfect evening. The backing band was incredible: I wonder why the drumming on Nexus sounds a little pale, Kev Whitehead being a great drummer. (Different enough to Mel's style, so we don't need to compare.) The - more or less - acoustic part was a good idea, and it was great to include "River Of Dreams" (thank you once again John for that song) and "Mr E" as songs from the non-Woolly era. "She Said", "Harbour" and the excellent new songs (I include the instrumental piece) were my personal favourites. I would have loved to hear "Float" though, but then again "there are thousands, millions of songs" (W.W.) Some people were upset because they hadn't heard about the line-up. I'm sure they were convinced afterwards.
I must say I was disappointed. Sure it was nice to hear songs like “The Iron Maiden” or “Harbour” live, but I thought the choice of songs was unfortunate. There was no real atmosphere and people getting up all the time was a sign of something missing. Why did John play an acoustic version of “River Of Dreams” Why only part of “Suicide?”? Woolly seemed tense with his guitar and made a hectic impression. I was absolutely disappointed when the concert was over after less than 90 minutes. I’m sorry - that’s a weak performance.
Everything went superbly, no mistakes, no problems. John and Woolly were together in full harmony and were obviously enjoying standing on stage together again. They gave their all and you could see the joy on their faces. The new CD Nexus, as well as all the older songs, received much applause. Many people thought that BJH would appear in their original line-up as posters and adverts had said, but they didn’t mind as long as they heard the music they came for.
At 8.00 p.m. sharp the lights went out and the support-act "Rosenfels” began their set of 6 or 7 songs. It actually went down OK and was well received.
After a short break a very expectant audience were witness to 5 men coming on stage in the dark. And after a short keyboard-introduction the band started the concert with "She Said." A great intro to what should become one of the best concerts I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a good deal of concerts incl. ones by Pink Floyd, Camel, BJH, Genesis, King Crimson etc.)
When Woolly began singing “She Said” there was no doubt that he was back in great shape. With a voice clear and self-assured he led us through this fine song, complete with recorder-solo by John and great guitar solos.
Next up was "Festival" complete with raw guitar from John and the odd middle section. Very much like the album version.
A slightly grey- and shorthaired John then introduced the two songs already played and told us ’bout the song to come. A song with a matter still current due to the war in Kosova. He told us the song was from when he had longer and blond hair to which Woolly, with even shorter hair, would remark "You should be grateful for what you’ve got." The first of many jokes from his side. Kevin on the drums then led us into a stunning version of "For No One." John had problems with the first line but was soon back in action. A surprise was when Woolly took over and sang lead on the last verse before John’s great solo.
Woolly then introduced us to a very old song, re-recorded on Nexus. "A little short thing or a short little thing" as he said. We then had a great version of "The Iron Maiden." After this one Woolly introduced the next one. Another very old and as he said, "quite famous, with a little added twist." We then had "Hors d’Oeuvre" and "Mocking Bird" to tremendous applause from the audience. By this time the sound quality was what I’d call perfect. John’s voice and guitar was extremely clear (and clean).
Following this great song and after the audience stopped clapping (which took a while) we were then led into “Suicide?". To my surprise we had the whole song electric. I know from former reviews that they’d played it only half-way through semi-accoustic. I spoke to Keith after the concert and he told me, that the band didn’t think it worked well that way. This version was very close to the one on Live Tapes complete wíth the great "smack" at the end. What more could one ask for?
Next up was Woolly grabbing his 12-string accoustic guitar. "The highlight of the concert," as he told us "Where I stand up." A song from XII which caused very much clapping from one single person in the audience to which Woolly replied "You’re the one who bought that album!" For my own part I’d join that since I still have this album as my favorite. We then had a fine version of "Harbour" played live for the first time. This was followed by a single from 1969 - "Brother Thrush". Another great song.
After that we had, what I’d say was one of the very highlights for me. A slow piano-intro from Jeff led us into the greatest version I’ve heard of "River Of Dreams". Only John accompanied by Jeff on the piano. I’ve never heard John sing so clearly and so much in tune live. This was simply beautiful. And as we applauded John for his contribution he stood applauding Jeff for his. Following this was a version of "Mr. E". A great song on the River Of Dreams album and not as good live, I’d say. John was joined by Woolly on guitar and Craig on bass plus Jeff on keys. On the other hand, after this version of "River Of Dreams" almost everything would’ve sounded weaker.
To great applause John and Jeff then led us into "Poor Man’s Moody Blues." Still acoustic guitar and keys. Soon they were joined by Craig on bass and Woolly on keys. Halfway through the song John changed guitar to electric and we were back into this classic version of this song, complete with John’s great guitar solo.
Next was a new song from Woolly. Written, as he told us, only "weeks, month, minutes ago". For now it was called "New Song". It began with a polite rhythm guitar from John but later got more heavy and raw with some discord from John. It ended great with a guitar-theme before fading out.
After that we had another new song, as John told us, from "that album, Nexus." A great version of "Brave New World", which was better and faster than the studio- version. Complete with lead-vocal from both John and Woolly. Woolly played 12-string on this one. Kevin added some electric-drums which suited the song very well and completed it with a drum-solo at the end.
Hereafter John introduced us to the guests on stage. "Our kid, our protegé, our little boy" as he said about Craig. Before introducing Woolly, Woolly sort of introduced his Mellotron. A heavy thing, but since this was show-busines, he had to cope with it. We then had a classic version of "Galadriel." Great as ever.
The last song was started with a bluesy harmonica from Woolly and we had a great great version of "Loving Is Easy." Much heavier than on the Nexus version, but still slower than other live versions of the song. John gave us the best solo of the night and Woolly was really having a ball, rocking behind his keys.
For encores we first had, what I think is the greatest song on Nexus; "Star Bright." A great version with solo and complete with this classic ending. John added a very quiet solo to this ending and it couldn’t have been better. Next was, to the audience’s ovation, "Hymn." This was as good as ever. Everyone in the hall was enjoying this great song. The band as well.
So it’s thank you Berlin and thank you Barclay James Harvest