Update: Cromer Folk on the Pier festival first day review

Jerry Harmon/

Jerry Harmon/ - Credit: Archant

Folk roots trio Show of Hands brought the first day of this year's festival to a storming close with a set full of powerful old favourites, choice cover versions and sensitive ballads.

Steve Knightley, Phil Beer and Miranda Sykes are no strangers to Cromer's annual feast of folk and indeed Miranda had been on the pier theatre stage earlier with Rex Preston in a duo who made a very good first impression.

A capacity audience including many long-term loyal Show of Hands fans joined in with old favourites including Knightley's highly articulate protest songs Country Life, Arrogance Ignorance Greed, and IED: Science or Nature.

The trio proved their undoubted versatility with the traditional Blue Cockade from Devon, Knightley's update of Widecombe Fair and cover versions of Sydney Carter's The Crow on the Cradle and Bruce Springsteen's Youngstown.

Once again Show of Hands proved they have the skilful knack of mixing old and new material, sometimes in slightly overblown arrangements, which strike a chord with young and more mature fans.


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Earlier folk veterans Martin Simpson and Steve Turner turned in classy performances with their instrumental mastery, fine singing styles and superb material.

Guitarist Simpson wowed his pier theatre audience with American folk blues, traditional British ballads and his own songs - many from his new album due in July.

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A song recording his travels in the blues-soaked Mississippi Delta was especially evocative and his tributes to Northumbrian mouth organ player Will Atkinson and heroic World War One Dardanelles stretcher bearer John Simpson Kirkpatrick were equally moving.

The folk-blues standard In the Pines was a stunning opener and Leonard Cohen's The Stranger Song a welcome live revival.

Turner, playing at The Cottage, opened the festival fringe programme with a wide choice of material.

Two songs - Diesel and Shale and Sammy's Bar - by the late Cyril Tawney proved especially popular and Steve proved his versatility with Bert Lloyd's pseudo-traditional Gathering Mushrooms, Mark Knopfler's Done With Bonaparte and tunes - on cittern and concertina.

Singers and musicians from regular local folk session contributed to a highly entertaining open session later at The Cottage followed by a concert set by American singer-guitarist Jerry Harmon with his own songs, mostly in bluegrass style, and covers of others by The Eagles and the Band.

Earlier festival regulars Mawkin pleased old and new fans on the pier with not only their usual quality instrumentals but for the first time original songs as well.

Seven-piece newcomers Seize The Day impressed the pier audience with lively tunes and original songs including the protest numbers Boys on the Balcony and Stand.

The festival continues today and Sunday.

Brian Gaudet

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