Last night Mr Boudica and I finally went on what seems to be, our once yearly night out. I’ve mentioned previously the glaring lack of childcare available for children with Autism outside of school hours, so we won’t cover that again. Going out separately is not so much of an issue, as long as I’m the one that gets to do the going out! But suffice to say, a night out together is a special occasion. Even if your wife is in full embarrassing groupie mode.
Last month I had to miss the amazing Show of Hands as I was ill. You can read about that here. To make up for it, I booked tickets to see them in Cambridge. Last night was the night. I spent all day waiting for things to go horribly wrong so we couldn’t go, especially considering Baby Boudica The Younger was rushed to hospital by ambulance only a few days before. I will write about that soon, but in the mean time, know that he’s well-ish again now
Cambridge. City of bicycles and traffic lights. To be avoided by anyone who likes big skies, empty roads and their sanity.
I was pretty sure that if the traffic was an indicator of the type of evening we were going to have, then it was going to be dire….
How wrong could I be?
Mr Boudica is quite newly introduced to the music of Show of Hands, he made some rather derogatory remarks about their music in the summer (mostly to annoy me) and I have been systematically reprogramming his music tastes ever since. He is now firmly in the “if you can’t beat them, you may as well join them” camp. I knew I’d got him the day he asked if I’d burn him a couple of their CD’s for the car. He’s not quite got onto MP3’s yet, but one step at a time eh?!
Steve Knightley, Phil Beer and Miranda Sykes gave us a fantastic and memorable evening. Before the interval, each of them gave some wonderful solo performances, before coming back and playing together in the second half. It gave us a wonderful insight into how great they are individually and also how they can come together as a whole to create something truly special.
From the opening performances of Company Town and Arrogance, Ignorance & Greed you know that Steve Knightley is a man with an opinion and he’s not afraid to share it. He approaches the audience as an honest man and a friend with a laugh and a joke, with no pretensions, and we love him for it.
For me, amongst the special performances was the slowed down version of Country Life, it took on an almost strangely funereal quality, the “gravel voiced spokesman for the rural poor” seemed to sing it straight from the heart. Although I don’t think there were many of the rural poor sitting in Cambridge last night. The audience themselves seemed to take quite a while to warm up and realise that some participation was required, and that it was ok to actually have fun and enjoy themselves. I resisted the temptation to be dancing in the aisles for some numbers, but it was a close run thing.
I can’t really give a complete running order, there were too many amazing songs to remember. So many favourites in such a short space of time. Most memorable was “Katrina”, I have to say, not a song I normally like. It’s too heartbreaking and doom laden for my normal tastes, but performed live beautifully, with stunning lighting and acoustics, it was hard not to be awe struck. Strangely, not just by Steve’s singing but by the backing of Phil and Miranda. I was sad not to have had a decent camera with me, as I could have got some stunning pictures of both of them, half lit surrounded by smokey tendrils. Sometimes an iPhone camera just isn’t up to the job, especially from nine rows back!
The instrumental sections were the bits where you realised that Show of Hands music is not just for the ears, it’s music for the soul. You just needed to open your heart, hear it sing and let it dance. The whole evening seemed to be a journey through the worst and best of humanity. It made me remember how music used to be an important part of my life, the life before. The one we no longer speak about, as it didn’t have small children in it.
The smooth transition between No Woman No Cry and Are we Alright, the audience finally finding their voice for Cousin Jack and lastly the quiet acoustics of Don’t be a Stranger, the latter which left the Boudica with tears running down her cheeks, all added up to be an amazing evening. It was most definitely worth the wait, it’s going to be a long year.
So if you get the chance to go and see Show of Hands on one of their few remaining tour dates this year. Grab that chance with both hands as you certainly won’t regret it. If you’ve never heard of Show of Hands and are wondering who and what I’m waffling on about – here would be a good starting point. Then on their next tour you can buy me a drink to say thank you. Mine’s a cider #justsayin
Best bit of the evening:
NOTE: This is the one and only time you will ever see the face of the Boudica! You will clearly see the reasons why I prefer to rule in the background. I shouldn’t be allowed out looking like that. Honestly, at my age, all weak at the knees with tongue trailing on the floor. Is it any wonder we don’t go out?
Things I learnt last night
I hate sitting in traffic
Male performers need more loo breaks than females
Always check the spellchecker
I have hormones
I miss music in my life
Mr Boudica has a crush on Miranda
I was disappointed to find the bar was closed after the performance, it would have been a great pleasure to buy Steve, Phil & Miranda a drink to say thanks for a great night. So Steve, Phil & Miranda, if you’re ever in the part of the Iceni kingdom, that passes through the wild borderlands of the Cambs/Norfolk Fens, pop by, I owe you one. Or if you ever need a free photographer at a gig, either of you, let me know. It would be good to remind myself where I came from occasionally.
Last night also planted a seed, a tiny little seed of an idea, that grew in my mind as we wound our way home across the fertile fenlands. I haven’t yet decided whether to give it free rein or to snip it off at the first shoots, but when I decide, the announcement will come here first. x