Saturday, 12 March 2016

Steve Knightley gig review

Steve Knightley at Glasson Dock Village Hall 11 March 2016

The first gig I ever went to when I moved to Lancaster in the summer of 2005 was to see Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman supporting Martin Simpson at the village hall in Glasson Dock. The Lakeman family, like Steve Knightley, hail from Devon and Sean's brother Seth got a couple of mentions during Steve's very entertaining sold-out gig.

The title of his current tour is 'All at Sea' and there is no shortage of martime songs in both folk music in general and Steve's back catalogue. The set included songs from his solo albums as well as some Show of Hands numbers, plus cover versions including Don Henley's 'Boys of Summer' – with Deadhead being replaced by Bellowhead – and the Otis Redding classic '(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay'.

Steve is never short of a humourous story, some of which were aimed at the previous night's gig in Liverpool and some at his SoH bandmate Phil Beer. He even did a passable impersonation of radio DJ Mark Radcliffe.

He had been interviewed on local radio in Liverpool and remarked on how this can be something of a chore at times especially if the presenter hasn't done their homework and knows little more about Steve than the fact that he is a folk singer. And the radio station was a bit nervous about playing a new track called 'Breme Fell at Hastings' as it included some old Saxon words. So much so that they faded the song out before the end as one of the words sounded a bit like a swear word. This caused much hilarity among the Lancashire audience that their Scouse neighbours might be upset by some strong language.

On a more serious note Steve gave us an update on his son who has been quite seriously ill over a number of years. I'm sure I wasn't the only audience member who recalls the Show of Hands gig at Lancaster University when Steve had had to return home suddenly due to his son's illness and left Phil Beer and bass player Miranda Sykes to play the gig without him. But the good news is that his son has recently finished a course of treatment and is now much better. Steve then played the SoH song 'The Dive' which he said he had found very difficult to play when his son had been unwell. The song relates the story of a lad who surfaces when his air is running low only to find that his marker buoy had broken loose and the boat with his father in it was nowhere to be seen.

Other highlights included 'Tall Ship Story' with Steve strumming away on his cuatro (a South American ukulele-type instrument) and 'The Napoli', a song about the ship that ran aground several years ago and was one of many songs the audience was encouraged to sing along to - “scratch Joe Public, what's underneath – a looter and a pirate and a thief!”

Thanks should go to Nikki from ImageAcoustic who arranged the gig and she is bringing another member of Show of Hands, Miranda Sykes with Rex Preston to Ellel Village Hall on Saturday the 16th of April. Tickets are availalble from

Another gig to mention is Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman who are playing at More Music in Morecambe on Saturday the 9th of April. More info and tickets from

Colin Bertram
12 March 2016