While working on the release of 'The Last Show' I have been thinking back and remembering more and more details about this show and the whole trip.

As usual Alvin and I flew in the day before, for a change on a Sunday as it was Pentecost and that Monday a holiday in many European countries. We stayed in a hotel in Amsterdam and had a quiet meal, sitting at a table on the pavement and looking at people strolling in the balmy evening air or whizzing past on their bicycles.

The band was not able to travel the day before due to other engagements and had to catch a nine o'clock flight from London, which meant some of them had to get up as early as 4am! The minibus picking them up from Amsterdam airport stopped by the hotel so Alvin and I could hop on. It was a couple of hours drive to Raalte and chatting during the journey we managed to catch up with everything that had happened over the last nine months since the previous gig.

By the time we arrive in Raalte bands are already playing on both stages which means there is no chance to do a sound check. Nevertheless Steve our soundman needs to familiarise himself with the available equipment and make sure the backline is working ok, Rich has to build his drum kit and Pete check out if the supplied double bass had been correctly strung with the required nylon strings and tune it. No need for Alvin to hang around backstage and get bothered by questions and autograph requests so he decides to stay in the hotel room to put a new set of strings on his stage guitar and get himself ready for an early show. He likes to arrive in the dressing room ideally 15 minutes before going on stage, just enough time to give the guitar a final tune and change into his stage outfit - although you wouldn't notice much of a difference to his normal street clothes! Just something he could take off afterwards as it all would be sweat soaked. Pete and Rich are still in their travelling clothes as they had expected to get back to the hotel and change during the afternoon, but as the whole town appeared to be at the festival the journey would have been taking too long through congested back roads so they decided to go on as they were. Pete now regrets that as the check shirt and old jeans would have not been his choice to wear for what turned out to become such a memorable show. Rich had the opportunity to be sorry about it straight after the show as his shirt was sopping wet and no spare t-shirt could be found for him backstage!

When we arrive at the venue we are both very pleased to see Gerry McAvoy still backstage after the earlier show with his 'Band of Friends'. Gerry was Rory Gallagher's bass player for many years, another guitarist I'm a big fan of. Alvin toured the US in the mid-90's with Gerry and his then band 'Nine Below Zero' and we became very well acquainted spending these weeks together on the road -which also happened to be my first tour on another continent! We have the chance to talk for a few minutes and get introduced to his band mates who we hadn't met before, notably Ted McKenna who was Rory's drummer in the early days.

The stage is located in a big circus tent with 'standing only' on the main floor and there appears to be a balcony upstairs with seats. The changeover on stage is done with efficiency, expertly directed by Steve who is responsible to plug in Alvin's transmitter and amp with the usual settings and also to mike up the speakers and the drum kit. In the dressing room Steve asks Alvin to give him a twang through the Marshalls to hear if the guitar is hooked up correctly, then heads through the audience to the front-of-house mixing desk. The festival's conferencier introduces the band in Dutch, then Pete walks up to the mic and says 'Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the legendary Alvin Lee'. The band launches into 'Rock & Roll Music to the World'; the traditional opener for many of Alvin's shows. The band concentrates on getting the monitor levels correctly adjusted so they can hear what they play through the on-stage speakers pointing at them. Steve gets the sound for the audience sorted in record time - and still managesby the end of the song to have a very respectable mix for the recording of the show he is running on the side. Usually he would record the show onto minidisc for Alvin to listen back home and analyse his playing. This time he uses a Zoom H4n handheld recorder and records in a different format - how lucky is that for us now! This seems quite ironic when I think about it, as these recording devices are usually employed by members of the audience to bootleg a show illegally. The advantage in this case is that the audio is recorded on two stereo tracks, one direct line-in from the desk and the other through the recorder's built-in microphones.

The sound and to a lesser degree the playing on R&RMTTW was not considered good enough for a release when Alvin heard it and therefore it is not included on the CD. 'Hear Me Calling' which followed gains momentum after the first half minute or so and 'Can't Keep from Crying' still manages to capture me completely when listening. Loyal fan Pieter Kentrop, who travelled to most of Alvin's shows over the last ten years, describes the show quite comprehensively in the liner notes featured in the CD booklet so I won't go into too much detail, especially as I often get distracted with things to take care of backstage. In 'Writing You a Letter' Alvin comes off stage during the drum solo to tune up and relate anything that he cannot communicate to me while on stage. On this occasion I don't remember anything that needed fixing so the second part of the show shapes up to be more relaxed for me. Another personal highlight is as always 'Slow Blues in C'.

I don't know how many of you noticed it but Alvin starts actually singing the wrong song at the beginning of 'I'm Gonna Make It', realises this when getting to the chorus and slides -more or less smoothly- into the correct lyrics.

I don't want to omit the little anecdote (also featured in the CD's liner notes) where Alvin sees a sign held up in the audience and reads it out aloud: "will you sign my... tits ... ?" followed by a little laugh and "I'm sorry mate!" as it's a guy holding it! Actually it spells tshirt and Dennis Ruesink sadly never got his autograph.

By the time the band plays 'Woke up This Morning' the stage manager approaches me and points out that according to a piece of paper pinned up backstage the curfew will be in ten minutes. This is contradictory to information received a few weeks earlier where Alvin had 75 minutes scheduled for his set. I try to defuse the situation by saying there are only two songs left in the set (failing to mention that they usually add up to over 20 minutes, plus at least one encore) but somebody on the other side of the stage is apparently signing to the band because Alvin comments "...a guy saying here we got five minutes to go"... no way... The festival normally very strictly adheres to the curfew imposed by the town hall, but other than shutting down the sound system mid-song there is no stopping Alvin when he is having that much fun! Fortunately they don't resort to such drastic action and even permit an encore - in for a penny, in for a pound. There isn't much choice anyway with the audience yelling for more!

Alvin walks off stage with a big grin on his face, exhausted, exhilarated and knowing to have given the audience his best that evening.

Back to the dressing room to change clothes and after a quick -well deserved- glass of red into the catering tent as we're all starving. The event's name 'Ribs & Blues' unfortunately doesn't extend to the backstage food, not a rib in sight! Anyway, something resembling hot food fills the hole and we head back to the hotel in which mostly bands and crew are staying. In the courtyard there is a little acoustic jam happening but we're only interested in dropping our bags and equipment in the room. Out front there is already a big table occupied by Gerry and band, so we sit down to enjoy the warm evening. We listen to everybody's tour stories and contribute some of our own. The hours fly by and very unusual for Alvin as incredibly moderate drinker he enjoys himself nevertheless. I have no such restraint but the less said… Pete, Rich and Steve actually are beat - not very surprising after their early start - and very sensibly retreat after an hour, but we sit well into the dark. This evening's conclusion is now a treasured memory for me. ~~ Evi

Dave "the Bishop" Scott
Blues Matters

Alvin's last show, the Rib and Blues Festival in Holland on 28th May 2012, turned out to be a breathtaking display of pure genius by a musician at the peak of his career. Arguably, it was probably Alvin's best ever live performance. The fact that it was recorded impeccably by sound engineer Steve Rispin, and mixed expertly by Brian Hayward without overdubbing or editing, means that the legion of fans still in mourning have been gifted a wonderful legacy. The liner notes in this beautifully packaged CD were written mainly by loyal fan Pieter Kentrop who was at the show and describes Alvin's encore as follows: "Every soul on that night was singing out loud the chorus of Rip It Up and rocking during the flashing guitar solos, the last song ever we regrettably are going to hear live from Alvin Lee.."

The set lasts nearly 80 minutes and represents Alvin’s entire musical journey from Elvis and rockabilly to Ten Years After and beyond, but rooted firmly in the blues. Alvin never got the recognition he deserved as a bluesman but his self-penned Slow Blues In C and Al Kooper's I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes confirm that he was an exceptional exponent of that genre. Highlights include the guitar pyrotechnics on Love Like A Man, the masterpiece, I Woke Up This Morning, the irony of I Don't Give A Damn and the national anthem, Going Home. However, every song is a highlight because Alvin is in scintillating form, technically brilliant, innovative and in perfect synergy with superb bassist Pete Pritchard and Richard Newman on drums, the ultimate power trio. The swagger and confidence of a maestro at the top of his game infuse the whole performance.

Pete Pritchard sums it up succinctly: "Not for Alvin to gradually diminish and fade like a dying ember. He finished still playing brilliantly, still shooting from the hip, still the classic guitar slinger." Playing this CD will carry the listener in time to the front of the stage watching Alvin and rejoicing in the music he devoted his life to as it unfolded during that memorable evening. Alvin RIP
~ The Bishop

Music Review: Alvin Lee - 'The Last Show'
By Wesley Britton, BLOGCRITICS.ORG
Published 10:00 pm, Monday, October 7, 2013
Seattle pi

I briefly met Alvin Lee back in 1970 after his group, Ten Years After, played a rather problematic gig in Harrisburg, PA. The band had suffered from an intermittent house sound system, and Lee was proposing to his road manager that the group no longer rely on what was available in each city. He thought that TYA should bring its own equipment from then on. I never found out the result of that discussion, but was happy to pose for photos with Mr. Lee.

Back in those days, those of us described as "heads" had at least one Ten Years After album in our collections, even before the band's 1969 breakout performance at Woodstock. These included the popular LPs we brought backstage for autographs, especially Ssssh (1969), Cricklewood Green (1970), and Watt. After the Harrisburg gig, what I always considered TYA's zenith appeared, A Space in Time (1971) with the band's only U.S. radio hit, "I'd Love to Change the World." That was one album I'd love to have had Lee sign.

After the band's breakup, I admit losing interest in Lee's mid-'70s solo albums. I do not remember why. But I did feel deep sadness when I heard that Lee died unexpectedly in Spain on March 6, 2013, at the age of 68. Then, I learned the last show Lee ever performed, a gig at Raalte, Holland, on May 28, 2012, was coming out on CD. Turns out, The Last Show (out now on Rainman Records) is as fine a full circle remembrance of Lee as anyone could've asked for.

While The Last Show wasn't recorded with any plans for a commercial release, Lee himself was so pleased with the results that he was the one to authorize the package, never realizing, of course, this would be his last album. His wife, Evi, knew the disc's importance, so she contributed notes about her husband and the happiness he felt after the Raalte concert in a booklet that also includes photos of the show and memories from the band and fans who were there.

Ironically, the 14 songs on The Last Show aren't going to make anyone think 2012. Rather, the show is a trip back in time to the glory years of Ten Years After, even if few of the selections were from that band's catalog. The Holland show is pure late '60s guitar god blues rock, complete with extended, melodic guitar solos typical of the era. Lee makes this connection overt in "I Can't Keep from Crying Sometimes." After accurately announcing Al Kooper stole that blues standard, Lee quotes passages from Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and even the theme from Peter Gunn in the middle of his jam.

Remembering that Lee named his band Ten Years After in honor of The King of Rock and Roll (with TYA jelling together 10 years after Elvis Presley's banner year of 1956), not surprisingly, there are scattered quotes from Elvis hits here. While most tracks are Lee compositions, one cover is Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "My Baby Left Me." We all remember who put that song on the map.

Lee's own tunes jump back and forth between old school blues ("Slow Blues in 'C'") and old school rock and roll ("Hear Me Calling" and "I Don't Give a Damn"). TYA fans will recognize "Love Like A Man" from Cricklewood Green and, of course, the obligatory "Going Home." Admittedly, Lee shows his age during his signature song, as he's no longer the speed demon of old. The guitar master is obviously far more mellow on this release than he was in 1969. In fact, the closest he comes to the energy we remember from Woodstock is during the encore, and Robert Blackwell's "Rip It Up" in particular. But that song is only three minutes and five seconds long.

Supporting Lee on guitar, vocals, and occasional harmonica are the excellent Pete Pritchard on bass and Richard Newman, who's quite capable of some tricky drum parts and contributes an old-fashioned drum solo. Remember those? Taking absolutely nothing away from the original TYA line-up, Pritchard and Newman are everything Lee needs to keep a solid groove going, helping make it clear this group could put its own stamp on classic material.

The Last Show should appeal to not only Alvin Lee and Ten Years After fans, but to those who appreciate rock shows in the Avalon Ballroom and Fillmore traditions. It's also for those who like solid and fluid guitar work that doesn't rely on pyrotechnics or speeding train virtuosity. Yes, there are numerous previous live releases from Alvin Lee, and fans will have to measure The Last Show against their older favorites. In any case, most listeners will be glad this evening was captured for posterity and only regret there will be no more. Alvin has finally gone home.

Alvin Lee's "The Last Show" Album Review
Corbin Reiff
November 09, 2013
Premier Guitar
On March 6, 2013, the world lost one of its premier musical talents with the passing of Alvin Lee. As fate would have it, Lee’s final show—a performance in Raalte, Holland—was recorded for posterity and is now available.

Beyond the obvious historical significance of The Last Show, the music is spectacular, with Lee displaying the same mastery of his instrument that made people first take notice so many years ago. Lee covers multiple genres: rockabilly on “My Baby Left Me,” blues on “I Don’t Give a Damn,” and funk-rock with “Love Like a Man.”

Perhaps the most poignant—and adept—cuts are the two songs Lee performed with Ten Years After on that fabled Woodstock stage in 1969: “Going Home” and “I Can’t Keep from Crying Sometimes.” It’s a fantastic performance nearly devoid of post-production touchups—fitting for an artist who created and played so honestly.

Must-hear track: “I Can’t Keep from Crying Sometimes”

Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Sea of Tranquility
The rock world lost a legendary figure on March 6, 2013 when iconic guitarist Alvin Lee passed away unexpectedly from complications after a routine surgery. Just 68 years old, the founding member of Ten Years After will always be remembered for his fleet fingered blues rock guitar licks and his memorable performance at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. Though Lee and Ten Years After eventually parted company, both he and the band continued on, each playing all those classic songs to packed audiences worldwide. The Last Show documents Lee's last ever live performance, recorded in Holland on May 28, 2012, and he showed that night, 43 years after Woodstock, that he still could bring the goods.

Though obviously approaching 70, the guitarist was perhaps not the superhuman speedster that he was at Woodstock, but throughout The Last Show he still can rip out those nasty blues rock licks like a man half his age. This isn't a perfect show by any means, so expect some bum notes, warts and all, but the energy, passion, and emotion is definitely there. Plenty of rootsy, hard rocking blues to be found on tracks like "How Do You Do It", "Slow Blues in 'C' ", and the lengthy "I'm Writing You a Letter", but of course it's those classic TYA songs "I Woke Up This Morning", "Love Like a Man", "I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes", and "Going Home" that everyone is waiting for. Lee's guitar solos can still send shivers, and his vocals also have held up quite well over the years.

With a solid rhythm section of bassist Pete Pritchard and drummer Richard Newman, the trio delivered a strong set of Lee originals and Ten Years After classics. Had the guitarist not passed away this year, no doubt he would have been happily playing to appreciative audiences for many years to come. RIP Alvin, we miss ya!