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  • Miles Hedley

SHOW OF HANDS at Cutty Sark

Legend is a much overused word when talking about musicians. But it‘s an entirely appropriate one when describing folk/roots powerhouse Show Of Hands, who played two sold-out gigs in the wonderful Sammy Ofer Gallery beneath the gleaming copper-clad hull of Cutty Sark.

Multi-instrumentalists Steve Knightley and Phil Beer have been playing together for 32 years and despite selling millions of albums, winning countless awards and filling cavernous spaces such as the Royal Albert Hall they prefer the intimacy of smaller venues where they can get up close and personal with their adoring audiences.

And boy, did the audience adore them at Cutty Sark as singer-songwriter Knightley and string genius Beer joked, told stories and performed a greatest hits playlist that included such classics as Fennario, Cold Frontier, The Man In Green, John Harrison’s Hand, the gorgeous Hook Of Love, The Preacher, My True Love, The Setting/Mary From Dungloe, Tall Ships, Exile and – my own favourite – The Train/Blackwaterside before ending with the rousing singalong Cousin Jack.

They were joined for a couple of the songs by another legend, Geoff Lakeman, virtuoso player of the rare duet concertina, dad to superstars Seth, Sam and Sean Lakeman, father-in-law of Cara Dillon and old Fleet Street hand who spent decades as the Daily Mirror’s West Country correspondent. He had set the mood of this brilliant evening with a hugely entertaining half-hour opening set that included contemporary classic England Green England Grey, historical tunes such as The Green Cockade and self-penned polemic Tie ‘Em Up.

It’s not often you get to see a master at work, so to see three at once like this was close to a once-in-a-lifetime thrill.


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