Reviewer: Helen Jones
Show of Hands were formed in 1986 when singer-songwriter Steve Knightley and composer and multi-instrumentalist Phil Beer got together to perform as a duo, having known each other since the late sixties being part of the same folk scene. Since then there have been multiple albums, tours a plenty and they are as popular today as they were twenty years ago.
Lakeman patriarch Geoff opened the show as the support act. Late to professional performing, he performed a mix of traditional and modern songs many relating to his Cornish heritage. Opening with The Farmer’s Song, an inditement on how rules and regulations are driving farmers out of business, he and his accordion took the audience through a series of styles, most with a level of audience participation, closing with A Wide Wide River To Cross. Lakeman has a great voice and his easy on-stage personality makes his set go very quickly. He definitely deserves to be given longer on the stage.
Show of Hands opened with a lively version of The Bonny Lass of Fyvie-O, with the set segueing through a few traditional numbers mixed with many of Steve Knightley’s original tracks. Included were popular tracks such as Cold Frontier and Hook of Love along with their ‘hits’ A.I.G (Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed), Roots and Country Life. Also included in the playlist were songs The Preacher, My True Love, The Bristol Slaver and Exile – the song that brought them together to create Show Of Hands.
Closing with a combined track of The Train (with its very Indian influences) and Blackwaterside the show felt much quicker than the hour and a half it ran. An encore of Cousin Jack was well received by the audience.
Steve Knightley is a hugely accomplished guitarist, playing both guitar and mandocello, while Phil Beer astounds on the fiddle, guitar and mandolin. While Knightley predominately takes the lead vocal, Beer does a few tracks and his voice has a haunting quality. But it is the obvious pleasure they get from performing and the banter between them which make the evening so enjoyable.
With over three decades as a group and over fifty albums produced, Show of Hands show no sign of slowing down and long may they remain as one of the best live folk bands in the UK.
Reviewed on 23 April 2018 | Image: contributed