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Barclay James Harvest - University of East Anglia - November 9th, 2006

The following review of the band's UEA concert also appears on the official John Lees' Barclay James Harvest web site.

From November 13th, 1971 at Harlow Tech to November 9th, 2006 - that's how long my Barclay James Harvest "career" spans.

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 venues.

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 away".

More than anything this 2006 concert taught me that you cannot return to the past but you can keep the memories alive.

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 evening.