SHOW OF HANDS UNVEIL RARE “BEHIND THE SCENES” DOUBLE BILL DVD AS THEY SET OFF ON 21ST ANNIVERSARY AUTUMN TOUR

Making The WakingCelebrating a remarkable 21 year partnership, singer songwriter Steve Knightley and multi instrumentalist Phil Beer headed out on the 29-date “Hand in Hand” tour last month brandishing a brand new double-bill DVD.

Joined by musical chameleon Miranda Sykes on double bass and vocals, the tour takes in locations from Cambridge to Chesterfield, Worthing to the Wirral, debut performances at Portsmouth’s The Pyramids and Torquay’s Princess Theatre and a capital show at London’s Cadogan Hall (November 13).

Coinciding with the tour will be the release of the DVD – Live at Shrewsbury Folk Festival and Making the Waking – a unique behind-the-scenes look into the recording of Show of Hands’ 14th studio album, Wake the Union.

The Anglo-American themed studio album released last year was acclaimed by many critics as their best yet and they will continue to showcase it on tour.

The first DVD disc, featuring eight live songs, was recorded at the 2012 Shrewsbury Folk Festival by MicroVideo’s Charles and Heather Denscombe when Show of Hands, together with members of the Urban Soul Orchestra, Exeter duo Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin and Matt Clifford (keyboards and string arrangements), memorably reprised their stand out Royal Albert Hall show from earlier in the year.

It includes songs from the band’s penultimate studio album Arrogance Ignorance and Greed including the dramatic The Dive, IED:Science or Nature and Innocents’ Song/Gwithian as well as favourites from the back catalogue including Exile and The Blue Cockade. Their performance of Knightley’s anthemic Santiago is dedicated on the DVD to the late Vladimir Vega, one of the Chilean exiled musicians with whom Steve and Phil formed the unique 90s band Alianza. Vladimir sadly died this summer but as the musician who introduced Steve and Phil to the cuatro, his legacy lives on in Show of Hands performances.

Making the Waking has been filmed by Wake the Union’s producer Mark Tucker and is a fascinating track-by-track insight into the recording of the 2012 album which also includes “appearances” by the likes of Seth Lakeman and Cormac O’Byrne and a sequence filmed on the Channel Island of Sark, with Andy Cutting and Martin Simpson.

Wake The UnionRevealing and often humorous, it’s a chance to learn more about the history of all 14 tracks – Haunt You / Company Town / Now You Know / Katrina / Cruel River / Aunt Maria / Coming Home / Reunion Hill / No Man’s Land / Seven Curses / Home to a Million Thoughts / Who Gets to Feel Good / Stop Copying Me and King of the World.

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Artist web link – http://www.showofhands.co.uk/

Tim Carter, presenter of ‘Off the Beaten Track’ reviews Show of Hands live

Show of Hands at Yeovil Octagon Theatre Saturday 27th October, 2012

Amongst the many acts that populate the current and seemingly ever-expanding British folk scene, few are as reliably rewarding in the live context as Show of Hands. It would seem that this is a view shared by many, since every seat in the house was taken for the band’s performance at The Octagon Theatre this evening.

Unlike many live concerts, in which the support act offers a truncated set to an indifferent audience, Show of Hands consistently present their discerning followers with an act worthy of further investigation. On this occasion the Yeovil audience was treated to a highly entertaining duo comprising of Canadian musician, Leonard Podolak and his musical partner from the United States, Matt Gordon. This pair performed some endearing Appalachian Mountain music, complete with nifty footwork and rhythmic slapping of limbs on a sand strewn wooden platform. The audience was entreated to participate in the musical body slapping and it was an oddly amusing sight from my vantage point to see an entire audience gamely clap a sequence of limbs in unison. Each partner in this entertaining duo was equally engaging, performing either solo or with the other and established a warm, good humoured atmosphere for what was to follow.

Quite clearly Show of Hands have much confidence in their newly released album ‘Wake the Union’ a work that combines perspectives on challenging times, historical and contemporary, on both sides of the Atlantic. The set began with the album’s opening track ‘Haunt You’. The appeal of this song, like so many Steve Knightly compositions before it, owes much to the composer’s ability to set an evocative narrative within a rousing musical setting.  Other highlights of the set included another ‘Wake the Union’ stand-out: ‘Katrina’. In this song the horrors of the New Orleans’ hurricane are made vivid through an evocative musical arrangement and Knightley’s quietly insistent vocal.

Elsewhere in the set Phil Beer provided an arresting moment in his superb and darkly atmospheric rendition of Charles Causley’s ‘Innocents Song’ set to dramatic fiddle playing. The towering shadow of Show of Hands’ virtuoso  multi-instrumentalist on one wall of the Octagon Theatre provided a striking visual counterpoint to the song’s eerie lyrical content.  Of course, Show of Hands could scarcely perform at this venue without a rare outing for the track ‘Yeovil Town’, a grimly humorous yarn about a late night encounter in a chip shop with one of the town’s less than folk-friendly denizens. It’s not often that a band can play a song that urges the audience to “stay away” from the town in which it’s performing yet Show of Hands pulled it off with aplomb, bringing much mirth to the house as they did so. Amidst the excellent new material there remained time for the band to perform a number of the song’s on which the high esteem in which they are held is founded. These include ‘Roots’, ‘A.I.G’ and perhaps Show of Hands’ best loved number ‘Cousin Jack’, an elegiac yet impassioned song about mass emigration to foreign climes in the wake of the collapse of the Cornish mining industry.

Show of Hands remains the folk act most likely to win over even those most resolutely antipathetic to folk music, effortlessly dispelling any preconceptions as they do so. The quality of the song-writing and musicianship on display this evening provide ample reason why after twenty years they continue to go from strength to strength. Tim Carter

Tim Carter presents ‘Off the Beaten Track’ every Monday at 6pm on Somer Valley FM. The show can be listened to on-line at www.somervalleyfm.co.uk

See Artist web link for latest tour details: www.showofhands.co.uk

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