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There Is No Vessel Finer!

A review of The Wurzels' gig on the Stena Line Cruise from Fishguard to Ireland, on Saturday 18 September 1999 by Ted & Kath Bowring

On the approach to Fishguard we were somewhat concerned about the weather forecast as it said there were gale force winds in the Irish Sea. Having said that flat calms can be quite boring. On arriving at the Stena Line terminal our concerns were echoed by the staff there who said that the problem wasn't with the crossing but with docking. Due to the Seacat not running the conventional ferry was full to the gunnels and was therefore running late.

At about 2.30pm we were informed that the ferry had to stand off from the harbour until conditions calmed enough for her to attempt docking. A little under an hour later this did in fact happen. Unloading and re-loading was carried out quickly and efficiently and at about 5.00pm we sailed.

Passengers were issued with an amended timetable of events, unfortunately I must have got one intended for the return trip and subsequently missed the start of the show. However, once seated I soon got into the atmosphere and joviality. It should be said at this point that Mother Nature must have had a bag on because sitting was difficult enough but to stand on stage and deliver an excellent show was pure professionalism. I think I might have seen Captain Ahab passing the window (sorry porthole).

I briefly reminded Pete Budd of a show I saw in the 60's when Adge and the boys appeared at the White Buck in Burley Hampshire, I think it made a happy man very old!

Any way on with the show, we heard lots of favorites like I've Got A Brand New Combine Harvester, I Wish I Were Back On The Farm, One For The Morning Glory, I Am A Cider Drinker, and many more. The audience was very animated to say the least - whooping, hollering, clapping and some were dancing. Naturally the boys weren't allowed to leave the stage without an encore, I think they heard the calls for more back in Fishguard. So after a musical rendition of Dixie, we were treated to The Blues Talking [Malt & Barley Blues - Zider Ed] and Drink Up Thy Zider. They had certainly earned a break.

During the break I took the opportunity to speak to some of the audience. Leslie Llewellyn and her partner Alun Vaughn had come to see them live for the first time although they had listened to the Wurzels for many years. Alun had found a poster of the Wurzels taken with a combine harvester in the early days. The poster has been in his possession for ten years and Leslie achieved her ambition of getting it signed.

Then there was Amanda Billington and at the tender age of 13 years she thought they were "brilliant" and "it was good", being also her first live show. Nice to see the appeal across the board.

I then spoke to Michaela Singleton whose father John and his friend Richard Cromarty from Bristol have known the boys for many years. Apparently when John and Rich used to work in the Royal Oak at Nailsea, Adge Cutler and the Wurzels recorded their first LP there. Michaela is sending me a photocopy of an old 33 record sleeve with some more info on it, watch this space. She also informed me of a group in the 60's called Pete Budd and the Rebels, wonder who that could have been. Only kidding Pete.

Gwen and Michael Bown were telling me how Mike used to run the lads home, probably one or two drink up thee ciders too many. Mike is in a wheelchair now but I think he had the best of it that night, he was the only one with any stability on a ship that thought it was a rollercoaster.

Still one thing came across very clearly, all the people who were involved in some way with the lads love them dearly, and they must have had great times one and all.

On the return journey we were all a little less animated due to the intake of falling down water in large quantities, however the Wurzels soon got us going again with likes of, Blackbird I'll Ave Ee, Champion Dung Spreader, What Do We Want With A Light [Let There Not Be Light - Zider Ed]. The next song courtesy of Cook and Greenaway of Bristol was of course Farmer Bill's Cowman. Then as a tribute to Adge we heard Twice Daily. Pete had a well-deserved slurp while Paddy McGintys Goat ran round rampant. We were treated to Pill Pill, and I've Got A Brand New Combine Harvester, Morning Glory this time even had me vocally raising the roof. The last song of the evening was I Am A Cider Drinker, followed by the Dixie playout, at which point the audience once again woke up Fishguard with their calls for more. Hands clapping and feet stomping we weren't blue and we weren't talking. We were very happy and singing. Blues Talking, moved into Drink Up Thy Zider. Corn half cut - so were we in the audience.

In the 60's they were good, 70's, 80's and 90's still excellent. David Bowie and Mick Jagger think they're clever still going strong, but they are just mere sproggs compared to these guys. A 76-year-old drummer has to be some kind of record. I was sweating just watching him. Lets have another few years yet to enjoy The Wurzels.

As a foot note my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The rough sea added to our enjoyment, but I bet there were a few calls going through to God on the big white telephone that night.

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