Miranda Sykes, singer and bassist with Show of Hands, has returned to her roots with a solo tour and a new album on the horizon.
It all comes at a momentous time for her.
Miranda plays Tuppenny Barn, Southbourne on Saturday, September 29 at 8pm (01243 377780; www.tuppennybarn.co.uk), one of the last gigs she will do before becoming a mum for the first time in November.
She would have been touring with Show of Hands this November; instead, her new album, Behind The Wall, will be available at their gigs while Miranda herself will most definitely be otherwise engaged.
“I am feeling very, very well,” she says, “but tired! Apart from a few gigs in September, that will be it until February when I will be touring the new album.”
The album’s title comes from a Tracy Chapman song: “It’s just really an album about what is going on in the world. There are songs on there that sum up what is happening in the world we live in, both positive and negative, about just trying to do the best we can.
“Behind The Wall is a song I have covered on the album. Some of my mum’s songs are on there, and there is a Nancy Griffiths track. It is really mixed, just a reflection of what is going on and on trying to find strength through music. Music is such a great way of communication.”
The album was happening anyway before the pregnancy: “But it feels more important than ever to think about the world when you are bringing a person into our current world. You have got to do your best.
“Touring in September is a bit of a transition. I did a couple of gigs over the summer.
“One set contained songs from my most recent album and the second set was my favourite songs from the whole of my back catalogue and also featuring a couple of songs from the new album.
“I am really looking forward to going back to Tuppenny Barn. I had a great time there a couple of years ago. It’s the space and also the audience. It’s just a really vibey place.”
And no, she doesn’t remember all venues equally: “There are some places when you are playing with Show of Hands where you never see the front entrance. You just see the back stage and the stage door. You think you don’t know it when you see the front and then you see the back stage and you think ‘Oh yes, I know this!’”
The fun is also in touring solo: “It was something that was quite daunting initially, but I find it really liberating now. I just used to feel the need for someone to back me up on stage, but I don’t now. Maybe I am more confident than I used to be.”
It also helps that she has learnt so much from Steve Knightley and Phil Beer in Show of Hands: “They taught me everything I need to know about stage presence. The great thing is that they are themselves, and that’s one piece of advice that Steve gave me, just to be yourself, and it really stuck.
“I had a tough time earlier this year. We lost a baby, and at that point I was half way through a tour and was just about to start touring. I said to Steve ‘How did you cope when your son was ill,’ and Steve said ‘Just be yourself.’”