The Harlequin, Redhill
Just occasionally I like to go out on a bit of a limb and to see someone whose output I should know but don’t. An artiste whose music doesn’t bother my collection. This is what brought me to see Steeleye Span – I mean I’d always been aware of them but, apart from the two hit singles, had never bought anything by them.
The gig didn’t disappoint – the band took to the stage and Maddy Prior announced that they were going to play the whole of their first album “Hark the village wait” in the first half of the show and then a selection of other songs in the second half. It became immediately apparent that either Maddy Prior has a bit of a cold or that her voice is on the way out as she appeared to be straining a little to get to the high notes a la Ian Anderson. However she has the advantage over Mr Anderson in that she has other vocalists who can fill in when her voice is straining a bit which does mask any shortcomings.
The musicianship in the band is astonishing – seven individuals who would grace other bands (and have in a lot of cases) and I was particularly drawn to Benji Kirkpatrick and Julian Littman who both played a variety of instruments with ease.
After the interval we were treated to another hour or so of songs from Steeleye’s long history – a couple off the new album ( “Cruel Brother” and “The Gardener”) and “Dark Morris’ off of the “Wintersmith” album along with hosts more songs featuring various brigands, syphilitic soldiers and murderers. At the end they came back in and did “All around my hat” as an encore – well they would wouldn’t they !
Real ale T shirt wearing men “of a certain age” made up a lot of the audience – the sort you’d expect to see at Cropredy (so no surprises there)
It made me think..
I went mainly because we used to have a lot of bands in Redhill – I remember seeing Nils Lofgren there many years ago (playing to a two thirds empty theatre), we had John Mayall, Procol Harum, Fairport Convention, lots of ageing bluesmen but now the theatre seem to be content to put on tribute bands and the like rather than originals and if you don’t go to these things they won’t put original bands on again (because there’s no call for it). I thoroughly enjoyed my evening and just hope that we see more proper bands here in the coming months.