By Craig Clark
Resident of Ipswich
Phil Beer and Steve Knightley played to a seated audience at the Corn Exchange
Given the opportunity to review a folk band, especially one I've only vaguely heard of, always leaves me with a sense of foreboding.
In need of some encouragement, my arrival at the Ipswich Corn Exchange revealed a large audience consisting of a few close friends, which assured me all would be fine.
Once inside, it was clear that this was no ordinary folk gig. With an auditorium filled with a strong anticipation up stepped the support act, Rodney Branigan who was introduced by Phil Beer as a very good guitar player from Texas, USA.
To allow you to form a visual idea of this artist, think younger version of actor Jack Black.
Rodney Branigan dreams of the day he can afford a proper twin-necked guitar
I don't know about you, but I'm not too keen on all that guitar heroes stuff, but Rodney stopped me in my tracks with his unique one-man rhythmic acoustic guitar performance.
It was like nothing I had seen before. His ability to manipulate the guitar strings whilst banging out a rhythm on the sound box was just incredible.
This guy rocks - picture two acoustic guitars, one perched on top of the other, played simultaneously with one trouser leg rolled up.
Rodney's ability to entertain the audience with his repertoire of covers and original tunes was truly brilliant and cliché-free. Check this guy out - he's simply amazing!
Show Of Hands
In anticipation of the main act, Show of Hands, I sensed most of the audience knew exactly what was coming.
The three-piece acoustic act comprises of front man Steve Knightley, multi-instrumentalist Phil Beer and double bass player/singer Miranda Sykes who explode on to the stage and punch-out an exceptional opening performance, which reassured us that all was well.
Show of Hands receive their BBC Radio 2 2010 folk award from Tom Robinson
Their musicianship and exceptional three-piece vocal harmonies was enough to make me realise this was no average band.
I would describe their music as a cross between folk and rock with a preference to folk.
Their repertoire is seductive and excellently delivered. The musicianship and lyrics provide a sense of belonging and loyalty, which I sensed prevailed within the audience.
My only reservation came during the solo performances, which excluding Steve Knightley and provided nothing more than an opportunity to be self-indulgent.
Two of my favourite songs of the evening were Bruce Springsteen's Youngstown by Bruce Springsteen and Boys of Summer by Don Henley which are taken from their latest album Covers 2.
Boys of Summer put a smile on my face and reminded me how good American songwriters really are.
Without question, an excellent band who deserve the riches of the premiership rather than their current championship status.
If you don't like pure folk or heavy rock then this band may well be your ticket.
Like most things in life, if you don't give it a go, how do you know if you like it or not?
I'm certainly pleased I decided to see this class act - I really like them.
Show Of Hands were at Ipswich Corn Exchange on 26, November 2010.
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