Show of Hands at New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth REVIEW: 'This band are good on record but almost untouchable live'

Christmas approaching? End of November? Must be time for Show of Hands at the New Theatre Royal.

Thursday, 21st November 2019, 9:22 am
Updated Thursday, 21st November 2019, 9:23 am
Show of Hands

Seasoned musicians like Steve Knightley and Phil Beer know how to please their audience and it's a rare show that leaves anyone disappointed.

I have, you may have guessed seen this band – at this fine venue – once or twice before. I have not seen them as a four-piece before though, this is new.

Last year the mighty Miranda Sykes was welcoming a new arrival into her world so Steve and Phil turned to Irish percussionist Cormac Byrne to add some depth to the Show of Hands sound.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

And, boy, did he ever. He helped breathe new life into old gems and introduced us to several new songs which subsequently appeared on the latest album Battlefield Dance Floor.

Bring bassist Miranda back into the fold and a four-piece seems like a natural extension. Show of Hands are no longer a duo or trio.

The first, short, segment of the show is almost like the group stage of the World Cup finals. Each band member plays a duet with every other band member. Most memorable for me was Miranda singing Sea Glass. Electrifying.

In the second, much longer, half all four join forces and draw heavily on that fine new LP. The title track, Just Enough To Lose, Make The Right Noises and the excellent covers; The Next Best Western and Leonard Cohen's First We Take Manhattan make for a powerful run of songs.

Add the 'Cornish reggae' of Dreckley and a magnificent slow version of set staple Cousin Jack into the mix and you have the makings of a great set.

Cormac's percussion transforms some songs, The Galway Farmer for example, somehow transports the listener to Cheltenham for the big race. Miranda's voice is better than ever and Phil too sounds in good voice.

Unapologetically I have two favourite moments. The bhangra-tinged title track from the new album sounds wonderful live and the old favourite Santiago is revived and, with added percussion, sounds as fresh as ever.

This band are good on record but are almost untouchable live. Come back Dreckley please!