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
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