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Steve Knightley

Venue: Town Hall
Town: Biddulph
Date: 7/2/18

Songs and Stories, the current solo tour. Eagerly we await at a capacity filled Town Hall in Biddulph.

Like all the best stories we start at the beginning as Steve plays us the first song he ever wrote, the first self penned that he performed on stage. It becomes a game of "Guess the ending of the line", joyfully we join in. Occasionally we get it right. The wrong guesses though are funnier. Even stranger are those from Hebden Bridge who turned a walking with my babe line into a walking with my dog. Whippets, Up North, love thy dog.

We are educated about his influences, Bob Dylan, Martin Carthy, Paul Simon. We learn about Finger Picking, it is broken down into simple steps, we feel we could finally learn to play the guitar. Or at least be empowered once again to try.

We embrace his love of poetry through the meeting with Ted Hughes during a week's workshop at school and the story of how Hughes earned Mr Knightley's soul (according to Celtic Legend) having been given his full name by the young Steve.

DADGAD tunings, meeting Phil Beer, bands, the London pub scene, the melting pot of doing covers in Coventry, we are enthralled by narrative, entertained by chords, we sing along to snippets, one line of well known hits we engage without question.

He enlightens us about his instruments, he spans tales that grow in size like Jack's Beanstalk yet are routed in ancient truth. The endearment shown to David Oddy, the recalling of blunt put downs he received, no ego here just a warmth that emphasises human kindness.

And the stories are interspaced with song. The serious "Undertow" about life in the West Country English rain. The pedantry of the internet in someone claiming you couldn't rent surf boards on the beach due to the tide conditions. Spoken in a posh Radio Four voice it's impossible not to carried along with the humour.

Steve's life on the road, family, kids, they are all here. Acoustic and stripped bare as the songs are, the songwriter is undressed more. We connect, it's a wonderful feeling.

Feelings expressed such as those in the eerie "Dive" which stands as one of his most poignant of songs.

A medley of Show Of Hands four greatest hits, no prizes for guessing the songs, they are familiar to all Longdogs and most casual fans. A twist with verses done in the style of Dylan and Springsteen, they light up the eyes of the audience. It's heady stuff.

A rant about the Folk Awards. The achievement's of Show Of Hands in headlining festivals, selling out the Royal Albert Hall, yet being overlooked for the awards. The Folk Police. "Too many issues in your songs for the daytime Radio 2 audience to think about". A view shared by many other bands including the amazing Merry Hell. We don't however mention 2009/10, when Steve, Phil & Miranda actually won!

We are taught three part harmonies. The crowd at Biddulph sound superb, I help the sound by keeping quiet.

And the circular path is closed as we return to Steve's Exmouth and Topsham beginnings.

Steve Knightley, songs and stories, a musical narrative journey not to be missed. An effusion of eclectic enjoyment. Exceptionally endorsed by those present.

Ian Cripps - words
Nick Barber - pic

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