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Dave Bainbridge & Sally Minnear + Chas Cronk & Friends

Thursday 4th July 2024

The Bedford, Balham, London

Starting with Chas Cronk and his mates Martin Wolfron Taylor on guitar, and the lovely Betty Dee on vocals and percussion. Session work teamed Chas up with some of the Strawbs, and later in 1974, he was asked to join them where he stayed until 1980. On Brian Willoghby’s departure from the Strawbs again in 2004, Chas seemed like the obvious replacement and so it became.

An interesting set was performed with much inventiveness and whit, to keep the humour at the right level. Covers were thrown in to keep things light and the mood just right. Springsteen’s 'Pink Cadillac' was a lovely case in point, making it totally their own. Frampton’s 'Baby, I Love Your Way' was similar, with a song I haven’t listed to in almost 40 years, but what fun! Bringing things a little more up-to-date, the closer 'Crazy' by Gnarls Barkley, was also dished out in totally its own style!

Then it was all about Dave and Sally! I had expected some other musicians to grace the stage, but no! The two of them manage just fine! Sally covers the percussive section and some guitars, while Dave covers all the other stringed and keyed instruments: It works and definitely covers all the bases!

Sally, who sang with Michael Flatley in ‘Lord Of The Dance’ has some serious genes in this business as her father, Kerry, founded ‘Gentle Giant’ and has been an influence throughout her life. She even played one of her father’s songs at the end of the set, and nowadays sings with Pendragon. Nice!

Together with Dave, they form a multi-instrumental duo, playing a lot of ‘Celtic Folk Rock’, as this is what Dave is best known for through his numerous albums with Iona, that has been together since the early 90s. Now I am the first to admit that, shamefully, I'm not as familiar with their output as I should be, but this was always going to be interesting, and consequently made for an entertaining evening!

They started with a track from Iona’s 1993 album, 'Beyond These Shores' featuring a bouzouki, reminding me how this instrument has travelled, but setting a very ‘Celtic’ mood that would hold throughout the evening. Next was more from the 1992 album 'Book Of Kells’, but we weren’t limited to just Iona songs, and we were then treated to the Ayla Nereos track 'Look At The River' with a lot of ‘Loopers’ being involved (which worked for the most part, as I have witnessed some complete disasters!).

Chosen from Dave’s latest solo album, 'All Of This' showed off his genuine guitar prowess, coupled with a rather delicious compilation of images that I can only surmise, was the Isle of Iona. Beautiful. A great evening so far, a short break was welcomed with some necessary beverages!

The second set seemed a little looser that the first, but none-the-worse for it. This saw more traditional material along with a song from ‘Lord Of The Dance’: 'Siuil a Ruin', as a veritable Minnear highlight! We were then treated to 'His Last Voyage' by Minnear’s father, from the 1975 album 'Free Hand'! They rounded off the set with the wonderful 'Innocence Found', before quickly returning for a wonderful rendition of 'Beyond These Shores. A perfect way to end an unexpectedly lovely evening, despite the chilly temperature!

Tim Russell

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