Review: Megson at The Spring Arts Centre in Havant

Have your say

Early on in their show husband and wife folk duo Stu and Debbie Hanna play the ribald Bet Beesley and Her Wooden Man, and it’s a good indicator of what’s to come.

In a show full of wit and laughter, Debbie’s classically trained singing voice shines, while Stu’s instrumental skill is impressive.

They’re excellent at taking the small things in life and giving them a broader resonance.

Whether it’s in songs like The Longshot, ostensibly about the trials of supporting Middlesbrough FC, or In a Box, the title track of their most recent album, about the stuff we all hoard during our lives, there is a sizeable strain of sentimentality that runs through their music, without ever descending into schmaltz.

It’s a tough act to pull off, but one they manage with apparent ease.

Stu swaps between acoustic guitar and mandola throughout the set, bringing out his banjo for only one number – Baby and The Band, a song from their album for children. For children without being childish, it goes down just as well with their more mature audience members in the evening.

Earlier in the day, the pair had played one of their Family Folk shows at the same venue, aimed specifically at youngsters these shows feature a bubble machine and singalongs aplenty.

But they’re not without a darker side, such as in the pathos of The Old Miner or the elegiac The River Never Dies.

Maybe next time they can be convinced to bring the bubble machine for the grown-ups too.