Steeleye Span’s 40 years of music

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Steeleye Span at The Apex, Friday, December 16.

Satisfying diehard fans and entertaining those who don’t know the lyrics to every song is some challenge, but Steeleye Span met it head on. Combining virtuosity, versatility and a sense of humour, they proved that old favourites can stay fresh.

This was one of the final dates on their Now We Are Six Again tour, with new members Julian Littman and Pete Zorn, joining Maddy Prior, Peter Knight, Rick Kemp and Liam Genockey. The first half featured the iconic Now We Are Six album, including 700 Elves and Thomas the Rhymer, while Pete Zorn earned his place with a great sax solo on To Know Him is To Love Him.

It’s more than 40 years since Steeleye Span set out to present traditional songs in a way that would appeal to rock audiences. Maddy Prior’s vocals and Peter Knight’s extraordinary violin kept the faith, as did a musical mix including riddle songs, a capella numbers and a Polish carol.

We knew that the encore would comprise Gaudete and All Around My Hat, but anticipation added to the pleasure. Full credit to the Bury St Edmunds-based Milkmaid Folk Arts Centre, which staged the concert in conjunction with The Apex and raises funds to bring music to all sectors of the community. CH