Swing Blues Festival - Wespelaar, Belgium

Sunday 22nd August 2004

Heike (my wife) and I arrived at 4.30pm in Wespelaar. We met Suzanne and were able to have a brief talk with Barry before his gig.
There were maybe 1000 - 1200 people on the festival-terrain. The weather was sunny (great)!
Apart from us we saw nobody (except a former Albatross roadie) wearing Barry McCabe T- shirts.
Unfortunately this shows once again, that he's one of the most underrated musicians.

Before Barry's gig we saw some other bands playing - I think these bands were more or less local bands. They did a good job and played their programme - but without making any real impression. So the audience sat on plastic chairs in front of the stage or were busy drinking beer in one of the beer tents around.

At 7.15pm Barry's band came on stage and Francis Mc Ilduff opened the concert with a fast pipe solo - only Barry wasn't on stage yet. Then you could hear the guitar and Barry came on stage too.
And then "the post went on" (as we say in Germany for a "fast growing athmosphere").

The first track was a hard rock song with some great bottleneck solos. (if I remember correctly it was "Pick a Bale o'Cotton").
Within a few minutes the plastic chairs were thrown aside and most of the audience moved closer to the stage.
The show was (once again) brilliant! The band was able to get the audience going within a very short time.
The set consisted of some fast rock and rock `n' roll with some great guitar playing and fantastic solos. Barry took some time for solo improvisations - with flageolet and "violin-tones" a la Rory (with the volume pot of his guitar). It was fantastic!

Just in front of us there was a guy sitting on a chair who was wearing a Rory Gallagher T- shirt. Before the concert started I said to Heike: "Hey, do you see that guy there? I'm 100% sure that he will be off his chair three minutes after the band start to play". What can I tell you - indeed he did. The guy stood near the front of the stage and was `rocking' from the first moment.

At the beginning there were a few sound problems but only for the first 15 minutes.
After a while Barry took his acoustic and played "The Emigrant”, together with Francis and his low whistle. Before he started to play he mentioned that this song is dedicated to Rory Gallagher and he got several ovations from the audience.
Then he also played a really fantastic version of  "(Gotta) Let It Go” with his acoustic - this was also a great highlight for me. I can't remember having heard this song live on stage before. Fantastic!

After the acoustic part the whole band played again and the performance got better and better. Songs like "One of These Days”, "Oh Well” and some other songs from the "Albatross” days hit the audience over and over.
Around us were only rocking and dancing people. Barry was running across the stage from one corner to the other - like a dervish!

The concert ended after one and a half hours and the band left the stage. The crowd was shouting for an encore. The show was only planned for 75 minutes and we thought it was over ... but the audience wouldn't stop shouting for an encore. And then it happened. Barry came on stage again and started (alone) to play  "The Peace Within”. Then the other members came on stage. It was an extended version of  "The Peace Within”, including an exchange of solos between Barry and Francis with his pipes, who played a great performance!

The concert was fantastic!
While nobody paid us (Heike and me) any attention before the show - after the concert people were pointing their finger to us (not because we're so pretty *lol... no, because we were the only people wearing Barry T- shirts). Some people came up to us and told us how much they liked Barry and his band.
We wanted to visit Suzanne after the show again - she was in a tent with some merchandising items - but we had no chance. The tent was full of people and Suzanne had no time. She was busy selling CDs and whatever else from Barry to the people.
A good while later we met Barry again backstage and he seemed to be very satisfied.

Barry was not the "headliner” of the evening. After him Lazy Lester went on stage and played his concert. But it wasn't his evening. He really had no chance to hold the performance on the same level as Barry did before. Heike and I didn't see the whole concert of Lazy Lester - we preferred to go back home. I think Lester was the looser of the evening and Barry was the winner. If you want to know what I think about that personally - I really knew that before Barry started his concert!