What a weekend!  This year saw the 75th anniversary of The Morris Ring, celebrated at the Thaxted Ring Meeting (I know, the what?!), and once again the Westminster Morris Men were honoured to participate.  What this translates into for our young hero is a weekend absolutely jam-packed with dancing, beer sampling, travelling around Essex, watching other people dance, singing in pubs, listening to top-class folk music being played in the same pubs in an effort to drown out some of the less-good singing, and generally having a mad and slightly surreal time.

I managed to capture a bit of video footage on my little camera, and upon returning home & reviewing it I’ve got to say – I was pretty darn impressed with the following dance which the lads did at the lunch stop on our tour.

The dance is one that was written by an old member of the team, and it’s called “Loveless” – named after Father Ken Loveless, a longtime friend and supporter of the team, and a much loved figure in morris dancing circles.  It’s in the style of the village of Longborough – you can tell that by the way it starts with those “shufflebacks”, and by the way that the hankies are waved in the air in a horizontal inward-circle.  Bloody lovely bit of dancing that!

(we have more dancey goodness on YouTube, including the occasional dance featuring yours truly)

Now, most normal & sensible people would have taken a weekend-long dance festivity and said “Good, that’ll do for me!”, however can anyone guess which pillock thought “Hmm, chances are we’ll be back in London by about 5pm, so there’s no earthly reason NOT to book in a concert for later that night!”?

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Lynyrd Skynyrd are one of those bands who have been around since time began, and near as I could tell the reasons for seeing them would be:

  1. Being a mad keen die hard fan.
  2. It’s a box-ticking exercise.

For me it was definitely the latter – essentially, it was an idea floated by Gig Chris a while back, and I thought “Yeah, why not”.  The only songs I knew being the ubiquitous “Sweet Home Alabama”, and the title of rock-gig encore in-joke staple, “Free Bird”.  As I handed over my £45, I thought to myself “Hang on, this is a frigging expensive exercise!?”, but by that point it was far too late.  And OH.  MY.  GOD.  Am I glad I went!

skynyrd

Suddenly it became obvious why these people are die-hard fans.  There’s something about southern blues-rock that just works and makes you want to holler whenever they dang well tell you to.  I thought perhaps the confederate flags in the crowd were a little bit too far (London not historically being a massive active supporter of the Confederacy), but otherwise I found that there was “something to it”, in a way that I didn’t get with the Hollywood Rock Posturing I got at Velvet Revolver.  I wouldn’t have said the blues influence on Skynyrd was quite as obvious as with Led Zeppelin, but damn… those boys can play!

In hindsight my skepticism was in part due to the knowledge that of the original lineup, only 2 band members were currently alive – along with the younger brother of the lead singer following the famous plane crash… and since booking the tickets in December or January we’d read about 2 more band member deaths.  Absolutely nothing to worry about though, as the 7 piece nailed every single song, of course finishing with “Sweet Home”, and then disappearing briefly before coming back for the inevitable encore.  Van Zant reappeared on stage and in mock-enquiry addressed the crowd: “So, is there anything else y’all wanna hear?”, and the crowd responded in unison – “PLAY FREE BIRD!”.  So they did.  For a good ten minutes solid.

Yes siree, much more than a box-ticker.