Sunday September 5th 1999
The Wedgewood Rooms. Portsmouth, England.

Review by Candie Hobbs. Check out the setlist and photos.

Jim Shaw Portsmouth, UK - The Wedgewood Rooms was not exactly bustling when I arrived, with most people scattered around the edges of the venue or propping up the bar. Lizard Lie, the support band did an excellent job of building the anticipation, but they were a little too loud and thrashy for my taste. By the time Cranes came on stage the venue had filled out and their was a general buzz of excitement rippling through the crowd.

It may have been 14 months since Cranes last played a gig, but they were back in style! The gig was excellent with a setlist covering songs from a range of albums. Playing in their home town, Cranes as always stunned the audience with their beautiful and enchanting music. They also played three new songs, one entitled 'Here Comes The Day' and another two; codenamed 'Slide Song' and 'Future Song'. Jim played bottleneck slide guitar on the appropriately named new song 'Slide Song'. I really liked them all and thought they boded well for a new album.

As an internationally recognised band, it is only apt that they should command an international audience, and fans from all over (America, France, Italy, Scotland and Malta to name a few) graced the Wedgewood Rooms. As always Ali was magnificent. Her voice was rich and captivating, seraphic in the vehemently bewitching music that is Cranes and although this gig was blessedly void of "Alison, I love you" caterwauling, it was obvious that many people were there to see her.

The boys, looking cool and casual, were all in fine form. Jim, hatless (but reassuringly with cigarettes and beer by his side), was radiant (maybe something to do with the support from the new love in his life, Jodie) and as ever totally absorbed in his music, although he did manage to inadvertently drop his Fender at the end of one of the songs.

Right from the beginning of the set there were calls for 'Starblood', so you can imagine the crowd reaction when Cranes concluded their final encore with this old-time favourite. The new drummer, John, who apparently was very nervous beforehand, certainly needn't have been as he played superbly, way outstripping Manu, despite having only a few weeks to learn all the songs. Moreover, in the finale he played 'Starblood' with the same profundity of passion that hasn't been seen since Jim relinquished the drums; making the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and totally captivating the audience.

Paul put out a talented performance in place of Mark and also played the parts normally played by a walk on fifth member, even, amazingly, playing both bass and keyboards at the same time on 'Lilies'.

Tim did a great job on sound, in fact one of the best I've heard and I've certainly seen plenty of Cranes gigs. Cranes old lighting engineer, Paddy was in the audience but might have been better placed actually doing the lights. The new lighting guy, Paul, did a credible job but at times using lights that were a little too dazzling, making it somewhat difficult to look directly at the band.

In summary, Cranes were on top form and all seemed to be having fun and enjoying themselves. For my part it was a gig well worth seeing and the after-gig party was great too - thanks Jim, Jodie and Sylvia!!

Portsmouth 1999: Setlist | Photos

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