The Show of Hands trio looks a little different this autumn as they hit the road for dates including the New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth on Sunday, November 25 at 7.30pm.
Gigs also include Friday, November 30, 7pm, St Georges Church, Brighton.
Miranda Sykes had a baby a few weeks ago. Completing the line-up will be Cormac Byrne, percussionist with the Seth Lakeman Band – though in fact the original idea was that Miranda and Cormac should coincide.
“I had wanted to work with Cormac for about six years,” says Show of Hands frontman Steve Knightley, “but Seth has always had preference on his time, and he has been in his band for about 12 years. But what happened is that Seth is using a more rock drummer sound and Cormac was free, and we were actually going to tour as a four-piece.
“And then with Miranda falling pregnant earlier this year, we thought we didn’t really want to get a dep in. We would just see how it works, and it has been amazing. When Miranda rejoins us, it is going to be extraordinary.
“We have done two lots of four gigs and a warm-up, and we are doing lots of new songs. It is much more an indie folky rocky sound. His percussion is so perfect and organic. What we are really hoping is that we can afford to put this line-up together for tours next year.
“I saw Cormac play with Seth it must have been more than ten years ago, and he looked about 13 at the time. I just love the way he plays. He just exudes the joy of playing music. We are like two old vampires sucking him empty of blood. He knows! He is a very willing virgin!
“But what I like is that there has always been a very natural thump from the way I play. With a big PA, there is like this heartbeat. Cormac hears that heartbeat in his percussion, and that means that I can play a lot less. The sound is more rhythmic. And he has the most extraordinary song sense. He knows how to mark time. He knows how to build it up.
“We always knew that it was going to be good because he is one of the best in the world. What we didn’t expect was the dynamic that it has given us on stage. With The Galway Farmer, he just takes it over and turns it into a frantic Irish reel. We just have to try to keep up with him. Last night we had a big crowd in Plymouth, and a lot of them came wanting to support me and Phil, but they didn’t expect the great dynamic that they got.
“But also we are playing a lot of new songs which means that you can’t compare to what it was like with Miranda… though Miranda is going to be joining us for an as-yet unannounced gig before Christmas.”
They are working together towards a new album as they head towards next year’s 25th anniversary of Show of Hands: “We try to change the nature of what we do all the time. But we weren’t born into folk. We discovered it when we were 14 or 15 or 16, but because we weren’t born into it, it means we can do the other genres, Americana and blues and Irish stuff. A lot of people born into it just have the one palette, but I can Springsteen it up a bit when I want to.
“One of the things I say on stage is that the English are magpies…”