REVIEW: Show of Hands, New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

Show of Hands

Show of Hands

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(also Worthing’s Assembly Hall, November 26 – 01903 206206).

Show of Hands were superb, just as you knew they would be. Just as they always are.

It was special guest Megan Henwood who was the night’s big revelation, offering a fabulous half-hour opening set and returning to accompany Show of Hands’ Steve Knightley on his tribute to the late Leonard Cohen.

Let’s face it. Support acts are usually something to be endured, a bizarrely-programmed necessity before the real business of the night gets going.

Henwood turned all that on its head. Instantly captivating and with the most engaging of personalities, she had the audience immediately on side, quickly building the kind of easy intimacy which has always been the Show of Hands trademark.

It’s rare indeed that you find yourself thinking ‘Oh, go on, a couple more’ when the support shuffles off. So often it seems the starter has been chosen with the sole aim of not upstaging the main course. Henwood proved the perfect complement.

As for Show of Hands, they were on fine form, ringing the changes beautifully as they generally do. Each of the three sang individually as well as collectively; frontman Steve Knightley introduced a couple of new songs, including the excellent Have No Secrets; and they finished with a flourish of “greatest hits” – Roots, Country Life, AIG – before sending us home to the beautiful Santiago. As ever, multi-instrumentalist Phil Beer was simply dazzling.

But it was their First World War tribute which was the highlight, The Gamekeeper and The Lily and the Rose, the latter sung by Miranda Sykes, so long so essential a part of the Show of Hands sound. She’s got a voice to die for; you long to hear it more; her solo was outstanding. And how good to hear she’s got her own solo tour next year.

Phil Hewitt

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