November 2016        

Dr Strangely Strange: Live at Electric Picnic

Barry Healy

One of the highlights of this year’s Electric Picnic was Dr Strangely Strange, an avant-garde Irish/folk group who were formed in Dublin in 1967. The band was formed by the Trinity College students Tim Booth (vocals and guitar), Ivan Pawle (vocals and bass), and Tim Goulding (vocals, tin whistle, and keyboard). After signing with Syd Barrett’s manager-producer, Joe Boyd, they released their debut album, Kip of the Serene, in 1969, in addition to recording a John Peel session for the BBC.
     Strangely Strange disbanded in 1973 but were reunited in the 1990s, with an additional member, the fiddle-player Joe Thoma.
     It was a wonderful experience for anyone fortunate enough to be at the Salty Dog Stage on the Sunday, in a shaded woodland in a quiet corner of the festival. As Dr Strangely Strange, truly one of Ireland’s great bands, performed their trade-mark psychedelic Irish-folk music, you could say their stage act was almost theatre. What’s more, their fine harmonies were given rich instrumental accompaniment while playing an amazing set. Among the songs performed were “The Invisible Kid,” “Dark-Haired Lady,” “Strangely Strange but Oddly Normal,” and “Piece of Cod.”
     This extremely talented musical group, with their dry wit and delightful personalities, had as much fun as the spectators; and those who did not catch their stage act will never know what they have missed.

Joseph married Lancard with a sword in his right hand
Walking to the GPO to play with the band
And Patrick Pearse comes squinting through 1916
Turns to the unicorn and asks him how he’s been.
—Dr Strangely Strange, “Donnybrook Fair.”

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