I arrived early at this very eagerly anticipated gig that Steve’s lovely friends – Bob and Sue had kindly put on at the side of their house in a beautiful rustic carport/mancave/ranch! Complete with lights (wouldn’t want their electric bill), comfy seats all around and a royal box – about to become a bar – with a few seats for those that were late!
I got there early, and had a chat with Steve, as hadn’t seen him for far too long. He was excited about the run of gigs, loving the tour and had been looking forward to this one, which he has done before. Steve loves being back in the West Country, and we all loved him being back!
Our genial host Bob warmly welcomed us, proceeded to read a few reviews on Folk websites about how highly rated Steve is on the music circuit, which was a lovely touch to start the proceedings.
Steve kicked off with ‘Change The World’ from his Somewhere Between album released in 2016, which started us all jigging around. ‘Loving Condescension’ followed from his first album Striking Matches in the Wind released in 2015 and is a lovely lilting melodic tune. Steve then introduced ‘The Stagehands Tale’ off his latest album – What Tomorrow Knows – and said he would like us in the audience to hurl abuse at him as would be part of the song. Not many of us did though! An advocate for Mental Health Steve is a volunteer with R T Projects, a fabulous art therapy project in Durham and his next song was ‘Me and the Silence’, which covers this topic and off his Alone in the Dark mini album released in 2019. ‘If You Fall’ next off his Good Intentions album released in 2012, very poignant. Next came the incredibly power ‘What If’ written by Beano from R T Projects usually performed by Beano reading his self-penned poem and Steve playing along with a few vocals. This evening we had cohost Sue read the poem beautifully and Steve accompanying. Powerful stuff. An absolute privilege to hear them together. The first half was rounded off with the audience participation ‘This Land Is Poundland’ off the Striking Matches in the Wind album.
The interval happened and Steve’s CDs were purchased by many. I couldn’t believe we had listened to so many numbers and still got part two to listen to!
‘The Baptist’s Father’ from Steve’s latest album What Tomorrow Knows commenced the second half, a very passionate and powerful song. ‘Good Intention’, ‘Rise’, and a good many more. Near the end of the gig, a man who had been commenting on Steve’s music at not really opportune moments requested some Rock and Roll. Steve immediately belted out ‘That’s All Right’, ‘Walking In Memphis’ and ‘Dancing In The Dark’, then launched into Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’ after which switching to the slow ballad of ‘Striking Matches In The Wind’. My evening was sealed when Steve played my request of Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ which is the best version I have heard anyone sing! Just wow!
The evening was such a joy and a privilege to be there. Steve’s songs all have a message in them, songs of hope and optimism (mostly) and are written with Steve’s special kind of humility. Steve is a most humble soul, who I feel still doesn’t believe and he doesn’t take for granted, how much we all love and respect his music.
We had a little gathering after the gig and although I had an hour and 20 minutes to get home I stayed. Steve picked up his guitar and noodled a few songs including ‘Friends And Fathers’ which is another of my special favourites of his. I got home at 1am. A grand evening!
Artist’s website: www.stevepledger.co.uk
An oldie but goodie – ‘This Land Is Poundland’ – live: