Lindisfarne: The Geordie lads who followed their dream

Ray Laidlaw, left, and Billy Mitchell of Lindisfarne
Ray Laidlaw, left, and Billy Mitchell of Lindisfarne

The Lindisfarne Story offers the chance to celebrate the legendary Geordie group in words and music.

They play Horsham’s Capitol on November 30 (01403 750220).

Lindisfarne was Tyneside’s best-loved band for over 30 years, and The Lindisfarne Story is a celebration of the group’s music and achievements.

The show is devised, written and performed by drummer/founder member Ray Laidlaw and Billy Mitchell, front man for the final eight years of the group.

Ray and Billy perform acoustic versions of Lindisfarne’s classic songs and tell the inside story of the group’s rise to fame, from Whitley Bay to San Francisco Bay, from Rothbury to Glastonbury. They describe the group’s early days on Tyneside in the 1960s hustling for gigs and their rise to fame in the early ’70s. The show is illustrated with personal archive photographs and video and describes their worldwide tours, festival successes and TV appearances, their triumphant return home and their unique relationship with Newcastle City Hall, venue for more than 130 Lindisfarne performances.

Ray Laidlaw explains: “I was a member of Lindisfarne from its conception and loved nearly every minute of it. Billy Mitchell and I first met and made music together in our mid-teens when he was guest vocalist for future Lindisfarne members Simon Cowe, Rod Clements and I in our group, Downtown Faction.

“We asked Billy to join Downtown Faction in 1968 but he wanted to concentrate on his own band. We kept looking and asked Ray Jackson who agreed and became part of our group just before we changed the name to Brethren. Shortly afterwards Alan Hull completed the line-up and Brethren became Lindisfarne. Billy watched our success from the sidelines and we approached him again in 1972 when Alan Hull was considering quitting touring with Lindisfarne and concentrating on songwriting. That plan didn’t materialise and the original group split in two, creating Lindisfarne Mk 2 and Jack the Lad whose members were Rod Clements, Simon Cowe, Billy Mitchell and me.

“In the 1980s Billy played in the Lindisfarne offshoot Pacamax with Alan, Rod and I and then following Alan’s tragic death in 1995, he joined Rod Clements and I in the Mk 3 version of Lindisfarne, which toured for eight years during which we made two studio albums. Billy and I have been bosom buddies since 1966 so he’s had the inside track on Lindisfarne from its formative days till the Mk 3 retired in 2003.

“We tell the Lindisfarne Story through words, music and a fantastic selection of archive songs and pictures. It’s a product of fifty years of friendship and musical collaboration that tells the tale of a bunch of Geordie lads who followed their dream and shared a lot of laughs, a few tears, and a barrow load of fantastic music”.