Over the past fifty years, Steeleye Span have come to define the concept of English folk rock – taking it from the world of small clubs into the charts, concert halls and festivals around the globe. The story of their career has included incredible moment after incredible moment – taking Latin carol ‘Gaudete’ onto Top Of The Pops, recording with David Bowie and Peter Sellers, showering their audiences with pound notes, scoring a top five hit with ‘All Around My Hat’, touring UK arenas with Status Quo, reuniting virtually all their members for a famous 25th anniversary show, and entering their fifth decade as creatively inspired and active as ever – including the acclaimed Wintersmith album with Sir Terry Pratchett.
Featuring some of the most famous names in folk music from down the years (Martin Carthy, Tim Hart, Bob Johnson, John Kirkpatrick, Peter Knight, Ken Nicol, Liam Genockey), the band has perhaps been most identified with Maddy Prior – one of the most distinctive voices in British music. Helping found the band with her musical partner Tim Hart, she has steered Steeleye through their various incarnations, as well as managed a successful solo career and a number of regular collaborations with the likes of June Tabor and The Carnival Band.
Steeped in the mythology and history of the British Isles – and beyond – her lyrics have retold some of the most notable stories in the tradition. Tales of love, tragedy, injustice, murder, revenge and redemption – all have come to personify the band’s musical sound, a marrying of folk tunes with the finest in rock instrumentation.
As they celebrate their milestone anniversary, Steeleye Span show no signs of slowing down. Releasing seven studio and four live albums since the turn of the century, their current seven piece line-up ranks as one of the strongest of their long history and features John Kirkpatrick’s son, Benji from Bellowhead, amongst others. Starting the year with a return to Ireland for three shows, including St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, they will tour the UK in March and April – once more revisiting famous moments and hidden gems from their career. This will lead to the release of their 24th studio album Est 1969, later in the year and another chapter in one of the most famous stories in modern music.
Performance: Thursday 18 April, The Capitol, Horsham. Tickets: Available online: www.thecapitolhorsham.com or via the Capitol Box Office: 01403 750220.