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Folk rock band's welcome return after 18 month lockdown
Good things come to those who wait. And for fans of Midlands folk rock band Quill there were so many good things to enjoy as they finally embarked on their postponed Riding Rainbows tour. As lead singer Joy Strachan-Brain, sounding as good as ever, told the audience at Staffordshire's Lichfield Garrick theatre: "This gig was supposed to be in March last year, and this is the first one back." The previous 18 months were spent in coronavirus lockdown, but Quill, now a seven-piece featuring former The Move and Electric Light Orchestra drummer Bev Bevan, spent the time working on their new Riding Rainbows album, which will be released on October 29. The longstanding 'folk rock' band description may now have to be tweaked as this latest incarnation of Quill, who incredibly started out in 1972, have a much harder edge these days. That was most clearly demonstrated on a stirring rendition of Black Sabbath's 'Heaven and Hell', another band which Bev Bevan has graced, with Joy particularly impressive on vocals and Bev joining fellow percussionist Andy Edwards on a visually exciting drum duet.
Lead singer Joy Strachan-Brain takes centre stage. Credit MJ Hill Photography
With the rest of the line-up, comprising lead guitarist Lee Evans, keyboard player Abby Brant, bass guitarist John Jowitt, and violinist Kate McWilliam all in fine form, Quill produced an eclectic mix of stylish covers, classic Quill standards, and tracks from the new Riding Rainbows album, which includes contributions from the likes of Andy Fairweather Low and The Moody Blues' John Lodge. They began the night with recent offering 'Grey Goose Call', before launching into Chinese Whispers from the new album and a gentler but no less enjoyable interpretation of the 1976 ELO favourite 'Telephone Line'.
Quill make a welcome return to the live stage. Credit MJ Hill Photography
This wide range of numbers continued throughout the two-hour set, with songs from the Riding Rainbows album varying from the melancholy 'Winter Rain' to the lively title track which seems to illustrate Quill's heavier sounding style. Other new thought-provoking offerings included 'Begin Again' and 'Bullet Proof,' while further favourites from Bev's back catalogue ranged from 'The Move's I Can Hear the Grass Grow' and 'Blackberry Way', to the final encore of ELO favourite 'Don't Bring Me Down'. And, if that wasn't enough to send the audience home happy, there were also sprinklings of long-standing Quill classics, none more so than the outstanding 'Say It Ain't So ' which they've been performing live for more than 40 years. Long may it continue.
The band acknowledge a deserved standing ovation. Credit MJ Hill Photography
For further information about the band, including future shows and availability of their new album, visit www.quilluk.com They also have a new television channel called Quill Connect which can be found on social media.