Show of Hands - Live at the Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton
Review by Chris Davis

Having previously only heard “Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed” and “Roots”, I turned up as a Show of Hands gig virgin knowing that at the very least I’d hear intelligent lyrics and a cracking good tune. Opening with “Country Life”, Show of Hands had the audience eating out of their hands from the off, railing against holiday homes, empty pubs and the theft of the English countryside and way of life.

A varied set followed with Steve, Phil and Miranda drawing on their immense back-catalogue as well as current numbers, to lead us on a journey of humanity and human nature.  From the looters, pirates and thieves of “The Napoli” to the greed of the bankers in “Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed”.  Along the way we were treated to a masterclass in the art of folk music.

“Innocents Song” is a prime example - the acapella opening borrowed straight from traditional folk, with excellent harmonies.  This led into haunting violin from multi-instrumentalist Phil Beer and when Miranda Sykes’ double bass kicked in, the atmosphere was complete.

In mid-set, Phil and Miranda performed a foot-tapping swamp blues number, Miranda performed “Trouble” from her new ep and Steve tried to stem the tide of email overload in “Stop Copying Me”.

Between songs, the friendly banter and snippets of humour occasionally overflowed into the songs themselves with lines from Slade’s “Cum on feel the noize” working their way into “The Keys of Canterbury” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” in “Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed”.  And when Galway Bay actually fell at the first fence it was something akin to Michael Palin as the pet shop owner in the last live performance of the “Parrot” sketch offering John Cleese his money back.

Following the Galway Farmer’s eventual rise to riches, the band turned the Wulfrun Hall into the largest folk club in Wolverhampton  with the traditional “Pleasant and Delightful”.  For an encore, “Cousin Jack” was followed by the audience joining in “Happy Birthday” to Steve’s sister Barbara, and the closing number “Roots”.

All in all a night to remember and for any other Show of Hands virgins out there, folk fans or not, get along to the nearest gig and find out what real entertainment is all about.

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Adrian Brown -
Chris Davis -
Claire White -
Francois Lassagne
Tom Wigley
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