“Age shall not wither…” It’s a tall order to start a review with lifting more pertinent words from a famous Shakespeare line, but in this case it is perfectly apt. To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of their celebrated debut album, 'How Green Is Your Valley', the original members of the 16 Tambourines took to the stage in what was more of a celebration than a gig. And the sold-out throng loved every second of it.

16 Tambourines were originally signed to Arista Records, and in an era where a band was lucky enough to have their album actually released by their record company, enjoyed a run of high profile support tours (Wet, Wet, Wet), two singles and the aforementioned album. So, this anniversary reunion gig was of interest as to see if the remaining members still had the musical chops to do justice as to what had come so many years before.

But there was no need. The opening piano crescendo to 'Bathe in the Afterglow', courtesy of Dave Oliver’s majestic keyboard work, forcibly removed any lingering doubts of any potential naysayers in the audience. This musical collective were taunt and tight, straight from the opening bars. Elliot and McGuigan providing a cement-steady groove, their collective musicality enabling the songs to be resuscitated and breathe after their Rip Van Winkle slumber. Over the course of the 13 song set we are reminded of just how good 'How Green Is Your Valley' was - and is - and how contemporary the themes that Steve Roberts was writing about and how they are so pertinent today. Six songs in, Roberts plays “England” and the song resonates to where we are politically today. 'If I Should Stay' benefits from Sue Ellini’s lush backing vocals, the perfect counterpoint to Robert’s baritone. He once described this composition as a “romantic drinking song”, but as time has passed, his lyrics have taken on a more emotional, time-worn sentiment. 'April' is still beautiful, the darkest hour before the dawn.

The gig ends with the well-deserved encore 'Frank', and the audience cheer and the band soak up the adulation. Tonight has been so much more than a musical memory. I overhear someone enthuse about what they have just seen and heard, and, thirty years ago, what could have been. But I think and smile to myself; it’s not a question of what could have been, it is a question of what it is and continues to be. And for that, we should all be grateful.












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