Concert: Steeleye Span
Venue: Grand Opera House, York
Review: Julia Pattison
I have always been a huge fan of Maddy Prior; her wonderfully distinctive voice inspired me as a teenager, planting the seeds of love for folk music which has had such an influence on my life.
Time flies. It’s hard to believe that her iconic group Steeleye Span is celebrating its 50th Anniversary Tour 1969-2019 and fortunately for fans like myself, were performing in York on Sunday 24 March.
The band’s line-up changes in the last few years have clearly helped to breathe new life into the outfit which seems to run on very democratic lines; there’s no big “I am” with Maddy, who happily lets newer members such as Andrew “Spud“ Sinclair and Benji Kirkpatrick take prominent roles vocally.
Former Bellowhead member Benji was a great asset to the band; a talented multi-string instrumentalist and beautiful singer, proving to be totally at ease with Steeleye’s music (having grown up with it no doubt as his father John was in the band in the mid 70s).
Mention too must be made of Jessie May Stuart’s fabulous fiddle playing and her sensational singing.
The York audience took a while to warm up, but after Benji’s “veiled” jokes, the atmosphere became more relaxed, with old favourites such as Alison Gross, King Henry and Roadways (featuring some great guitar playing and lead vocals from Spud) to name just a few, going down a storm.
Maddy did seem to struggle on some of the vocals at times, but came into her own when the vocals were shared out.
Everyone gave a passionate and energetic performance, earning enthusiastic applause.
Reclaiming, written by Rose Kemp (daughter of Maddy and former member Rick Kemp), a song due to be featured on Steeleye’s upcoming album, was sung acapella by the band and along with the iconic “All Around My Hat” was a highlight of the show with superb harmonies.