Show of Hands bring down the house with a ‘pull all the stops out’ show marking their 25th anniversary
Singer songwriter Steve Knightley and multi instrumental wizard Phil Beer took to the stage of the iconic Royal Albert Hall for the fifth time with a memorable two and a half hour gig which prompted two standing ovations.
A dramatic opening saw the performance of Knightley’s spellbinding song Widecombe Fair, with Beer appearing high in the organ loft playing an eerie fiddle.
They were soon joined by the Devon’s 30-strong Lost Sound Chorus for the moving The Old Lych Way.The choir returned throughout the evening to swell the sound on some of the band’s best known songs and numbers from most recent albums Centenary and The Long Way Home.
Also taking to the ‘Kensington Village Hall’ stage were top mandolin player Rex Preston, 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards ‘Best Duo’ winners Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin and Canada’s hugely entertaining Matt Gordon & Leonard Podolak, whose fiddle and banjo music were punctuated by outbreaks of clog dancing and “hamboning” (traditional African American body percussion.
Long-time collaborator, composer and keyboards player Matt Clifford, added to the sound as did Chris Hoban, who has penned some of Show of Hands’ more recent songs including the epic Katrina (also performed on the night).
Towards the end of the first set, there was a surprise appearance by renowned Downton Abbey actor Jim Carter who read Siegfried Sassoon’s To Victory in his inimitable way before a performance of the WW1 song Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire while Alice Jones was a solo Morris dancer in ‘Twas on One’s April Morning’.
Show of Hands ‘anthems’ Country Life, Roots, and banker-baiting Arrogance Ignorance and Greed were all on the set list as well as the traditional favourite The Blue Cockade. Their trademark Cousin Jack, about emigrating Cornish miners, was the rousing finale before they stepped back on stage for Knightley’s “hard to believe it’s not traditional” number The Galway Farmer and a rousing Santiago with the whole company on stage.