Show of Hands the Devon-based English folk band comprising Steve Knightley the songwriting tour-de-force and Phil Beer were joined by Miranda Sykes with her double bass and searing harmonies who has added this depth of tone to the duo since 2004. This was an evening filled with musical tones delivered with a clarity and precision that reflected the emotions being portrayed by the lyrics of every song.
We had fiddles, guitars and mandolins but above all we had vocals and harmonies thanks to Phil, Steve and Miranda. The classic English Folk number The Blind Fiddler provided an opportunity for Phil to display his talents on the fiddle and then the chance for audience participation and natural harmonies from the audience as they joined in the chorus Hallows Eve Is Here Again. Each song was described by frontman Steve Knightly giving a context and a reason that gave the set list substance, we had The Preacher about Portland in Dorset and some excellent Mandolin playing that built the atmosphere. Despite being steeped in British folk traditions we had a bluesy number Let Me Go To; Budleigh Salterton which was their take on Rock N Roll. The end of the first set was a dramatic medley of songs from their new album Century with a celebration of WW1 poets which was truly Poetry with Music.
The second set was an opportunity for all three musicians to display their solo talents and added different texture to the sound and worked so well and then they came back together an delivered Santiago, followed by a protest song of arrogance, ignorance and greed AIG which had real passion an anger. Closing a marvellous evening of live music was Cousin Jack – an emotional outpouring of the Cornish Diaspora as the miners left Cornwall to mines across the world knowing they would never come home again.
Tonight was wall to wall Show of Hands folk with two sets and no support the audience were delighted to immerse themselves in a quality and emotionally driven delivery of English folk and lots more this is truly acoustic roots music immersed in history and traditions delivered with a freshness that is The Show of Hands.