Steeleye Span – December 2011

Martletss Hall, Burgess Hill   8/10

Sunday 18th December 2011

Lineup: Liam Genocky, Rick Kemp, Peter Knight, Julian Littman, Maddy Prior, Pete Zorn,

Two concerts in two nights! Life is good. Night one, in Burgess Hill, was excellent. It was a bit cold on stage apparently, and it took them a couple of numbers to fully warm up. Maddy wore a patterned print jacket, white blouse, black skirt for the first half, and a swirly blue skirt with shot silk jacket, blue and crimson, for the second half.

First half songs:

Seven Hundred Elves – not a bad start

Drink Down The Moon – fine

Now We Are Six (3 Riddles) – got them all

Thomas the Rhymer – the original is my favourite Steeleye, but this was good fun too. I thought the fiddle and flute weren’t differentiated enough, so those sections were a bit of a muddle, but it’s such a good song that it was great to hear it again.

Mooncoin Jig – excellent. Peter did the intro, and while mentioning the retail opportunity, he told us of a new type of guarantee – if you buy the new Gigspanner CD and don’t like it, send it back to him, and he’ll send you a CD he doesn’t like. Very fair.

Edwin – Rick was in fine singing voice, even if the introduction was up to his usual level of strangeness.

Long A-growing – very good version

Two Magicians – good fun

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star – excellent. Peter’s fiddle playing was clear and bright, and his solo absolutely magical, as always. A lovely updating.

To Know Him Is To Love Him – I never liked the original much; I know it’s just a bit of fun, but Maddy’s voice was just too little-girly for me. This was much better, and I actually enjoyed it. A lot. David Bowie’s stand-in on saxophone was the multi-talented Pete Zorn, of course.

Second half songs:

Today in Bethlehem – from Winter. This was their Christmas selection, all from the same album. I love this one.

Sing We The Virgin Mary – not a favourite, but the fiddle solo was lovely

Bright Morning Star – took a couple of verses to warm up, then a great sound

The Two Constant Lovers – fine

Edward – rocking!

Who Told The Butcher – good

Creeping Jane – also good

Cold, Haily, Windy Night – or ‘Eric’, as Rick likes to call it. (So that his three songs all begin with an ‘E’.) The intro was another lovely ramble through the magic land that is Rick’s mind. As well as trying to flog one of his guitars, he told us about the group getting way off key during the start of this song last night. He claimed that he was only telling us because he felt comfortable sharing with Burgess Hill; he wouldn’t mention it tomorrow night at the Barbican….. We shall see.

Bonny Black Hare – seriously rocking!

Encores: (no surprises here)

All Around My Hat – were we better than Margate? I think we should be told!

Gaudete – lovely

That’s it till tomorrow. Picked up the new CD plus some extra clothes, as usual.

Barbican Hall     10/10

Monday 19th December 2011

Night two – the Barbican. With special guests The Acoustic Strawbs, Martin Carthy and John Spiers. What would change from last night? Well, the sound was much better, and Steeleye were property warmed up from the start. They cut the intros to the bare minimum for the first half. Songs as for the previous night, Maddy’s outfit the same too, for both halves.

700 elves

Drink down the moon

3 Riddles

Thomas the Rhymer – better than last night

Mooncoin Jig – had to visit the loo, but could still hear most of it on the speakers.


Long A-growing

Two Magicians

Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star – Maddy dedicated this to Dr Brian Cox, same as last night, and the fiddle solo was just as good, too

To Know Him Is To Love Him – even better, or maybe I’m getting used to it.

After this set, the compère, Kevin Donnelly, rambled on for a bit in a mildly entertaining way while the crew set up the stage for the Acoustic Strawbs. I don’t know the names of some of their songs, so I’ve identified them by any lines I could make out. Their set consisted of:

‘Bless the day’

‘I was blind but now I see’


‘May you rot/ may you rest’


Lay Down – we were invited to join in

The King – with Maddy – a world premiere live performance!

The sound setup for them wasn’t great, which may account for my not enjoying their set very much. Dave Cousins did the ‘retail opportunity’ speech after the third or fourth song, and did it very entertainingly. Given the lack of Steeleye intros, he was able to use the ‘special guarantee’ joke – if you don’t like our CD, send it back….etc.

2nd half – Steeleye

Edward – still good

Two Constant Lovers – probably enjoyed it more than last night. Good fiddle solo; he’d been picking the strings during the verses, so when he unleashed the full sound with his bow, it was lovely. Peter repeated his story from last night about the East Sussex version of this song – it’s too short, cause the bloke pushes her over the cliff!

Bright morning star – apart from Gaudete, their only Christmas number

Then they were joined by Martin Carthy and John Spiers (accordion) for:

Padstow – we gave the final ‘wesus’ some welly

Bedlam Boys – good fun

The Lark In The Morning – lovely

Bryan O’Lynn/The Hag With The Money (jigs) – nice and lively

This section was a bit rougher round the edges, but then they wouldn’t have had a lot of rehearsal time. Martin and John then left, and the current lineup completed their set with the final two from last night:

Eric – that’s Cold, Haily, Windy Night to us. Rick did explain the alternative title, but true to his word, he didn’t mention the problems from the night before last!

Bonny Black Hare – still great. They’ve extended the live intro to give Rick a bass solo.


All around my hat – with Martin, John and Dave Cousins from the Acoustic Strawbs joining in. We were good, but were we as good as last night? Or Margate?

Gaudete – even stronger with the extra support. Lovely finish.

A great evening, and Steve’s only question was, why didn’t we book for more? Good question.

© 2011 Sheila Evans at

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