Steeleye Span provide night of nostalgia and great new music at The Apex

Songs stretching back to half a century ago combined with up-to-date arrangements helped to provide not only a night of nostalgia but an evening of fantastic music and harmonies from folk rock band Steeleye Span.

The Apex, in Bury St Edmunds, was sold out for the 50th Anniversary Tour last night (Monday, December 2) and the audience lapped up the array of tunes from the band led by iconic singer Maddy Prior.

Now into her 70s her voice is slowly waning but as strong as ever and the combined singing of the line-up was pitch perfect.

The gig, which was promoted by the town centre venue in association with the local Milkmaid Folk, saw Maddy combine with her six musicians to draw on the group’s incredible history and provided a night of favourites and surprises from down the decades.

Guitarists Andrew Sinclair, Julian Littman and Benji Kirkpatrick, along with drummer Liam Genockey, fiddler Jessie May Smart and bassist Roger Carey created an eclectic mix of numbers many of which came from their new album and their 24th studio recording released in June this year “EST’D 1969”. They included “Old Matron”, “The January Man”, “Mackerel of the Sea” and “Domestic”, with all of them telling wonderful stories in the lyrics of the songs.

But there were also old favourites with their two major hit recordings of “Gaudete” and “All Round My Hat’’, with the latter having the chorus sang with gusto by their endearing audience, plus wonderful foot-tapping jigs and reels and the title track of their album featuring the combination with the late Terry Pratchett “Wintersmith” and the song of the witch “Alison Gross”.

Following Pratchett’s death in March 2015, the band made an appearance at the memorial service for him in April 2016 at the Barbican Centre, in London, and they will be returning to the venue on December 16 with special guests and previous band members Peter Knight, Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick, at the end of their long running 2019 tour which has seen them play right across the country.

The seven-piece line-up, the first in the band’s history, has continued to tour. 2019 is the band’s 50th anniversary year and their latest album has been released to celebrate the anniversary.

The band have undertaken two “50th Anniversary” tours this year, in Spring and November/December, and played the Fields of Avalon area at the Glastonbury Festival this year and were the closing act at the Cornbury Music Festival 2019.

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