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Gig Review: Phil Beer at Stanley Halls
It is a strange reason to go to a gig – but when I saw Phil Beer was playing at my old school hall, a strange curiosity prompted me to buy tickets. And I was not disappointed.
Phil, for the uninitiated, looks like he should be getting on a motorbike and riding off to make a cooking show on television somewhere. He is, of course part of folk’s supper group Show of Hands, and one-time member of the Albion band. He even played a song by one of his Show of Hand colleagues, Steve Knightley.
Phil´s repertoire incorporates folk in all its forms: The Blues, Sea Shanties, Methodist Hymns and tunes from the First World War. These were accompanied on guitar, fiddle or in the case of Jethro Tull’s ‘Weather Cock’ (at the start of the second half) on Mandolin. Phil had started the evenings set with Steve Earl’s rousing ‘Devils Right Hand’ and got a little audience participation with the chorus.
Then there was, The Warlike Lads of Russia, with of course reference to the recent television adaptation of War and Peace. And closing with Little Feet´s road song "Willin".
The very appreciative audience had Phil playing Randy Newman´s ‘Amazing Dancing Bear’ for an encore, and Phil promising to return to “the fine hall” next year with his band.
Whilst tuning, Phil gave a great insight to his inclusion of the song in to his set. Anecdotes about life on the road - often with references to the past. He did apologise to those of us under 55 who probably didn’t know some of these bygone reference. The Stanley Halls had been set out cabaret style and the audience was probably into three figures with a mainly older patronage but with a few teenagers and younger folk about. It was strange going to the bar in a hall in which I was last in a school blazer!