England’s folk duo Show of Hands, once described as “the most famous unknown band in Britain”, are on the brink of selling out the Royal Albert Hall for the fifth consecutive time.
The “people’s band” will celebrate an incredible 25 years in the business when they step on stage at one of the world’s most famous concert halls for the fifth time on Easter Sunday (April 16) – an unprecedented feat for a band of their ilk, and a self-funded gamble.
Without the backing of any record company the multi award-winning acoustic pairing of singer-songwriter Steve Knightley and multi-instrumental wizard Phil Beer has proved itself a potent, alchemic mix that has already sold out the iconic venue four times, played festivals from Glastonbury to Cambridge and WOMAD, released 29 albums, featured on national television and performed around the world from Canada to Germany, India, Australia and back to their home county of Devon.
The gig will start at 8pm and Steve and Phil will be joined by their long-term special guest Miranda Sykes, the stand-out double bass player and vocalist who has enriched the Show of Hands sound since 2004.
Miranda will also appear in her duo with top mandolin player Rex Preston while returning to the Albert Hall for the first time since clinching the Best Duo title in the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards will be another stand-out act – the much celebrated and innovative pairing of Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin.
The third duo will be Canada’s hugely entertaining Matt Gordon & Leonard Podolak who supported Show of Hands on tour in 2012. The audience are likely to be treated to a set of old-time traditional fiddle and banjo music, punctuated by outbreaks of clog dancing and “hamboning” (traditional African American body percussion!)
Also in the line-up will be Devon’s 30-strong Lost Sound Chorus who last year appeared with Show of Hands at Exeter Cathedral in a concert marking the centenary of the first day of Battle of the Somme.
Long-time collaborator, composer and keyboards player Matt Clifford, who famously worked with The Rolling Stones, will also be on the Albert Hall stage as will Devon teacher Chris Hoban, who has penned some of Show of Hands’ more recent songs including Katrina, Hallows’ Eve and The Old Lych Way.
The concert will include songs from most recent albums Centenary and the 2016 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Best Album-nominated The Long Way Home as well as the acclaimed Wake the Union which skilfully entwined English and American roots music – not forgetting the big Show of Hands ‘anthems’.
Show of Hands will stage their famous raffle to win a cello mandolin made by their regular Devon-based instrument makers, Oddy Luthiers with a runner-up prize of the No Secrets book – this year in aid of the charity MIND and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Also on the evening, Steve Knightley will be announcing a significant crowdfunding appeal to bring an extensive Shrouds of the Somme art installation to the capital.
Somerset artist Rob Heard last year painstakingly hand stitched calico shrouds onto 19240 12 inch figures representing every Allied soldier who died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme – making a powerful art installation that was seen in Exeter and Bristol. Knightley was closely involved in the unique project, serving on the committee.
Now Heard has embarked on making more than 70,000 shrouds to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 in 2018 – commemorating every soldier who died at The Somme with no known grave. It is hoped to display the new work in London for Armistice Day (November 11) next year.
Show of Hands, triple BBC Radio 2 Folk awards winners (Best Live Act, Best Duo and Best Original Song, for Knightley’s ever topical Arrogance Ignorance and Greed), first played and sold out the Albert Hall in 1996, to the surprise of the sceptics.
In 2001 their legions of fans from the UK and across the Channel descended on Kensington again, when the show was filmed by Carlton TV. Five years later, they were back for a hat trick success in SW7 and, in 2012, followers were delighted when they returned for a fourth encore with guests including American singer songwriter Richard Shindell.
Tickets are now close to sell out for the “Big Gig” but some seats are still available in boxes, stalls and Rausing Circle areas of the 5,000 seat venue, as well as seats for just £20 (plus booking fee) in the choir section.
They can be booked on 0207 589 8212 or 0845 401 5034 or online at
Show of Hands | Facebook | Twitter:@showofhandsnews
Miranda Sykes | Facebook | Twitter:@sykesbass
Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin | Facebook | Twitter:@PhilandHannah
Matt Gordon & Leonard Podolak | Facebook
Lost Sound Chorus | Facebook | Twitter:@_TheLostSound
Chris Hoban | Facebook
Rob Heard | Facebook | Twitter:@boughhouse
Oddy Luthiers | Facebook
(from a press release)
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