Maddy Prior/Rick Kemp/Rose Kemp
Peter Knight/Nick Holland
Sundial Theatre, Cirencester, UK - 30 April 2000

THE combination of Maddy's first live dates of the year and the guesting of two Steeleye favourites was too good too miss and so it was that I went to Cirencester on a lovely Bank holiday weekend Sunday evening at the Sundial Theatre, an excellent little theatre which I have seen Steeleye at in the past. The theatre was full which would have amounted to nearly 300.

        The evening was wonderful. The musicians present meant there was going to be a very wide variety of music and at times I really thought I was at a Steeleye concert. More on that later.

        The real surprise of the evening was not just the appearance of Maddy and Rick's daughter, Rose, as she has appeared with them before, but the fact that she sang 3 solo's (one unaccompanied), they were all her own compositions and at least two arranged by Rick (Album in the offing from these two I wonder?). These were a real treat to hear and very good lyrics indeed. The songs were in Maddy's words in 'a slightly different direction', but you only had to look at Maddy's beaming face from the sidelines to realise that there was no greater endorsement. The names of the songs escape me but Rose admitted they were only written a couple of months ago and therefore were certainly the first time they had been sung in public. Rose looked very nervous at first but it in no way effected her singing which was mature way beyond her 18/19 or so years. Her style was more June Tabor than Maddy but with real power and feeling behind the words, which she admitted came from recent experiences in relationships! With a more 'angry' rock band behind her it would almost be Alanys Morrissette. Very different indeed but it added to the marvellous mix of music on the night.

        Maddy too was on top form, a slightly sore throat perhaps held her back slightly but the superb control she had over her voice meant it never distracted from the songs. Maddy's solo works were well represented with the highlight being the set of 'Hare' songs from the Year album. Further solo songs were Long Shadows, Twankidillo and Rigs of Time which was the best playing I have heard of that song, Rick's playing complimented it perfectly.

        The expected highlight for me before I went was to see Peter play with Maddy again, on this note I was not disappointed. I suspect that Peter had only that day to rehearse with the rest of the band but the combination of all those years in Steeleye and having played with Nick Holland before meant that he fitted in perfectly. The Peter Knight highlight was when just him and Maddy were on stage playing Betsy Bell and Mary Gray, Anyone who has heard these two playing this song will realise what a treat it was to see and hear again. A truly haunting song which only Maddy could sing to such effect.

       Now that we are talking about Steeleye songs, how about this for a line up: Bedlam Boys, Blackleg Miner, The King, Padstow, Cam Ye all Frae France and Saucy Sailor. That's right, I really did have to remind my self it was not Steeleye. I'm sure that having Peter and Rick behind her meant Maddy couldn't resist singing all those wonderful songs again. The King was a real surprise with all 5 of them singing the harmonies, I'm sure Rick would have suggested this classic. The highlight was Cam Ye, as it was virtually unrehearsed! The band had probably just rehearsed expecting one encore during the day but they had no problem playing the song when the audience dragged them back out for a second encore, by now some people had taken to dancing in the isles!. Padstow was no surprise as it was only hours before the song would be played down in Padstow for May day, their was also a very unusual version of Bedlam Boys, I think Peter's desire for improvisation encouraged the unusual slant on what is a dark song at the best of times.

        The audience loved it, I loved it and you could not have wished for a more diverse and entertaining evening of music, on a final note, look out for that Rose Kemp chart topping album!!

Greg Easton