Started up as what appears to have been a bit of a happy accident by Oysterband originals John Jones, Alan Prosser and Ian Telfer, Oysters 3 present a slimmed down and almost unplugged version of one of the UK’s best loved Folk Rock bands.
They were last in Bexhill, as a full band, back in September 2014, but this was an altogether more intimate affair. Taking place in the cafe/bar area of the De La Warr Pavilion, this was a perfect setting for an evening of ‘greatest hits’ and highly amusing anecdotes.
Those lucky enough to be in the sell out audience of around 120 gig goers were treated to a very enjoyable evenings entertainment, in a club like venue.
The band themselves commented on the size and intimacy of the venue, saying that it was an almost scary experience being so close to their audience. These days they’re probably not used to being able to see the whites of their eyes, and whether they’re yawning or not!
Oysters 3’s two sets contained a potted history of the bands back catalogue, including classics such as ‘Oxford Girl’, ‘Another Quiet Night In England’, Hal-An-Tow’, ‘The Deserter’, ‘Diamonds On The Water’ and many more.
Before playing ‘Uncommercial Song’, Ian Telfer mentioned that the band had agreed not to ever have a hit single, “something we’ve managed to stick to”, hence the title of the song.
While they may never have had a recognised hit, you certainly can’t deny that Oysterband have written some very catchy songs over their almost forty years of playing together, with some great sing-a-long choruses among them.
I’ve discovered that the audience at a Folk gig are certainly not afraid to exercise their vocal chords during a performance, and many of the songs played tonight had fans happily singing and clapping along.
They even had us all singing along to a non existent bass line during one song, not something I’ve ever done before.
The songs performed were a mixture of originals and the traditional, involving subject matter ranging from love, coal mining, Lenin and right through to the political. But, as they pointed out, “we may have voted Labour, but we didn’t inhale”.
All songs were preceded by stories about either the songs themselves, or memories from the bands career. Folk musicians seem to be natural born storytellers, maybe its the nature of the music itself, but the tales relayed on the night were always amusing.
Stand out stories included George, the bands East German tour manager, running off with the contents of Oysterbands East Berlin bank account, after the band had had a whip round to buy him a ‘getaway’ car, a Trabant!
And then there was Fuzzy, their driver on a tour of the USA, and his bizarre collection of video tapes.
The story of Ian Telfer’s unusual use of some Lira notes in Trento, Italy, also deserves a mention. When you’ve got to go…..
There were plenty more amusing anecdotes and remarks where they came from, including how they came to once be Eddie Grundy, from The Archers, backing band.
Oysters 3 also managed to squeeze in some lively instrumentals too, which I’m sure would have had the older audience dancing, if there had been room. As they themselves said, “once a Ceilidh band, always a Ceilidh band”.
All in all I think both the highly appreciative audience and the band themselves would say that this up close and personal type of show was a great success.
The whole evening had a nice feel to it, the sound was good and the intimate atmosphere certainly added a certain something too, making the gig seem a little more special.
Oysters 3 ended the gig in fine style too, playing the final song of the evening off of the stage and almost in the audience. Singing and playing ’Like A Swimmer In The Ocean’ completely unplugged and then finishing the song by walking out of the cafe area, into the bar, while still playing.
A nice touch and an inventive way to round off a memorable night.