James Harvest Concert Reviews and newspaper cuttings
13th 1971 - Barclay James Harvest - Harlow Technical
was a long wait. I don't really know what I was doing
there anyway. The college's social secretary Steve
Clarke told me he had signed an interesting band by the
name of Barclay James Harvest. Steve, like me, came from
Norwich and went on to become a respected rock critic. I
was at a loose end that evening so decided to pop along.
seem to remember there were a succession of bands, all
of whom I thought were BJH. They were all interminably
boring and I very nearly went back to my digs.
Thankfully I stayed. I have to vote this my greatest gig
ever if for no other reason than it changed my musical
modern day parlance I was simply blown away by their
prog rock. I pretended to a friend that I knew their
music (that's the kind of thing you do when you are 19,
not wanting to sound ignorant). I agreed that
Mockingbird was sublime without having heard it.
35 years I still think Mockingbird is sublime and now
I've heard it hundreds of times!!!! I loved the
performance, I loved the "exploding" organ at
the end of After the Day, I loved the whole feeling of
theatre. It was a night to remember and one I will never
forget. I have written at length about BJH on this site,
but this really was a musical experience of the best
James Harvest - Norwich Theatre Royal (two concerts) ***
James Harvest - University of East Anglia ( two
James Harvest - St Andrew's Hall
Click on the cuttings
to see larger images. These are reviews by
myself of two concerts by Barclay James
Harvest. They appeared in the Eastern Evening
years separate all these concerts and it's now difficult
to remember them individually. Probably the earliest of
the three was at St Andrew's Hall where the support band
was Rare Bird. I seem to remember it as the first time I
heard the extended versions of Summer Soldier and
Medicine Man. The acoustics were very good and it was
another excellent BJH night.
some reason I remember the Theatre Royal concert as very
disappointing. I am sure that I wrote a review in the
Eastern Evening News which attracted the headline
"Good but not Golden Harvest." Not sure why I
was disappointed, but perhaps the band failed to play
its best material.
of the two concerts at the UEA were to celebrate the
band's silver jubilee - a romp through their best
material. The other I seem to remember as being
enjoyable without being able to recall the specifics.
9th, 2006 - John Lees' Barclay James Harvest - Norwich
University of East Anglia
November 13th, 1971 at Harlow Tech to November 9th, 2006
- that's how long my Barclay James Harvest
Back in 1971 they forever set the standard for me for
rock music. Little did I think that almost 35 years
later I would be listening to the self same songs. I
imagine that at the age of 19 I didn't even have a
concept of what 35 years was!
So I had a feeling of almost light-headed euphoria as I
waited with friends for the UEA appearance.
It is many years since I last saw BJH. I think it might
even have been their 25th anniversary tour and it was a
sobering thought that three-fifths of last night's band
probably weren't even born when John and Woolly were
writing most of these excellent songs.
The band was tight without destroying the spontaneity of
the playing and John, hunched over his guitar in typical
style, was spot on all evening.
Woolly was a real star - playing to the audience and
seeming to enjoy every minute. He made reference to
returning to Norwich and certainly I have seen the band
at least five times in the city at three different
As I listened to the likes of Galadriel, Mockingbird,
The Poet and After The Day I tried to transport myself
back to how I felt in 1971.
Today I cannot remember much about that defining evening
- who I went with, whether I had too much to drink, how
I got home - but I do remember being "blown
More than anything this 2006 concert taught me that you
cannot return to the past but you can keep the memories
If I have one criticism of the show I would have liked
to see John smile a few times. He seemed to be
struggling to enjoy the evening (something I'm sure that
wasn't the case) and I would liked to have heard more
from him and more about the songs that have meant so
much to me over the years.
It was almost as if the band was actually Woolly
Wolstenholme's Barclay James Harvest.
Musically it was excellent. Mockingbird has undergone a
number of changes over the years, none of which have
destroyed its beauty and Medicine Man was blistering.
Suicide? was another highlight and The Poet/After the
Day brought a fitting climax and should have been the
last number. That's only a personal preference, however,
as Hymn has never been a great favourite of mine.
I was sorry that She Said wasn't included. I had seen
the set list before the evening so knew exactly what to
expect. It is sad that there is no longer such a thing
as a genuine encore in rock music. The return to stage
to play one, two or three more numbers seems nowadays to
be totally planned rather than spontaneous.
But these are all minor moans in what was a memorable