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Show of Hands with Michael Wood and Kirsty Merryn present ‘Songs of the People’

£17.50 – £35


May 27, 2023
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
£17.50 – £35
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The Exchange
75 London Rd
Twickenham, London TW1 1BE United Kingdom
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Show of Hands with Michael Wood and special guest Kirsty Merryn present ‘Songs of the People’

Show of Hands – Steve Knightley and Phil Beer join world renowned historian and broadcaster Michael Wood and singer songwriter Kirsty Merryn to take us on a chronological journey through 800 years of English radical songs.

Michael will provide the historical context alongside songs that illustrate the People’s History.

From the Great Famine and the Peasant’s Revolt in the 14th century, the English Civil War, the Diggers and Levellers, Peterloo, the Chartists and Tolpuddle Martyrs these songs commemorate the lives of ordinary men and women through times of struggle and hardship as they fought for the rights that are ours today.

Show of Hands

Show of Hands are an English acoustic roots/folk duo formed in 1986 by singer-songwriter Steve Knightly (guitars, mandolin, mandocello and cuatro) and composer and multi-instrumentalist Phil Beer (vocals, guitars, violin, viola, mandolin and mandocello).

Known for their songs with rousing choruses that address contemporary social issues, (notably their “singalong attack on the bankers”, Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed, these often illustrate current concerns through historical narratives and have earned Knightley the label the ‘Gravel voiced spokesman of the rural poor’. Rooted in English traditional music the songs are shot through with diverse influences from music across the world, including the blues, Americana and Latin rhythms. Nominating Knightley as ‘songwriter of the ’90s’ Tom Robinson of BBC6 noted that the songs spring from “the soil of the West Country,” where, as Robin Denselow writes in the Guardian, “Beer and Knightley have become folk heroes”.

Widely recognised as pioneers in the folk/roots arena both for their enduring emphasis on stagecraft, and their radical business model, Show of Hands are noted for the high level of professionalism they bring to their performances whether in a small club or the Royal Albert Hall. Their “much vaunted cottage industry,” set up Show of Hands as an independent concern before the internet made this common practice. Beer and Knightley with their then manager Gerard O’Farrell built on their close relationship with their growing and “devoted” fanbase to create a completely self-contained way of working. This included their record label and production company Hands On Music, that gave them control of their consistently ‘classy’ output.

Show of Hands have received widespread critical acclaim over their 30 album (and continuing) career, and in 2006 were voted “Greatest Devonians Ever” in a poll run by Devon Country Council beating Sir Francis Drake, Agatha Christie and Chris Martin amongst others to the title.

They have unequivocally become one of the leading forces in British folk. Steve Knightley and Phil Beer are respectively recognised as one of the UK’s best singer songwriters and one of its finest multi instrumentalists. Without frills or fanfares they have carved a unique niche built on a carefully constructed cottage industry and become one of the most in-demand bands on the circuit.

It is clear that the Show of Hands story is a remarkable one and they are now, as BBC Radio 2’s Mark Radcliffe says, “at the top of their game”.

Michael Wood

Michael Wood is a historian and filmmaker who for forty years has brought history alive for viewers and readers in Britain, the US and worldwide. He is the author of highly praised and bestselling books on English history including number one best sellers In Search of the Dark Ages and Domesday, and also The Story of England. He has made 120 documentary films, among them In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great and The Story of India, which the Wall Street Journal described as ‘the gold standard’ of documentary history making’.

Michael has written widely on British history. His special academic interest is in Anglo-Saxon history, and the origins of the English monarchy and state in the tenth century. He also has a long-term interest in Shakespeare–his many films include a highly praised four part life for BBC 2: In Search of Shakespeare.

Michael is currently Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester. He is a recipient of the Historical Association’s Medlicott Medal for ’outstanding services and current contributions to History’. He recently received the British Academy President’s Medal for services to History and outreach.

Historic Royal Palaces Trustees are not remunerated. This reappointment has been made in accordance with the Cabinet Office’s Governance Code on Public Appointments. The appointments process is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. Under the Code, any significant political activity undertaken by an appointee in the last five years must be declared. This is defined as including holding office, public speaking, making a recordable donation, or candidature for election. Professor Wood has not declared any activity.

Kirsty Merryn

Kirsty Merryn is one of the most arresting and unconventional new young singer songwriters on the UK folk roots scene, with a style uniquely her own. London-based, New Forest-born Kirsty launched her debut album She & I at London’s Union Chapel on November 9 whilst supporting Show of Hands on their extensive UK Cathedrals tour.Kirsty has been championed by Show of Hands’ frontman Steve Knightley after he met her while teaching at an EFDSS songwriting retreat for upcoming folk singer songwriters and she went on to open for Show of Hands at their headline appearance at Sidmouth Folk Week in 2016, and supported them over the 22 nights of their Cathedral’s tour of the UK, at the end of 2017, performing to around 14,000 people along the way.

Beguiling and mercurial, Kirsty’s music is heavily anchored in the folk tradition with jazz and classical backwaters. But it has a much wider reach, with her influences ranging from Cara Dillon to Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush – emphatic pianobased songs with sharply observed lyrics, packaged with panache in elegant, beautifully balanced settings and delivered in crystal clear, assured vocals. Skilfully produced by in-demand, award-winning Gerry Diver (who also plays myriad instruments), She & I comprises eight Merryn originals, focusing on the diverse stories of inspirational women in history, from Emma Hamilton to Annie Edson Taylor – the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive! It is already receiving extensive air play including the Mike Harding Folk Show, national airplay on the BBC Radio 2 Folk Show, the BBC 3 World Music show, as well as many regional BBC channels, and is receiving fantastic reviews. It reached number 3 in the Amazon Folk charts and continues to receive great reviews from newspapers including The Guardian, The Sunday Express and many more.

“Kirsty Merryn is a folk singer and composer of extraordinary skill…. destined to be a big star” – Sunday Express

“Folk debut’s often arrive gingerly, shyly; Kirsty Merryn’s set of originals arrives bold and fully formed” – The Guardian

“Perfect, poised vocals.” – Tom Robinson, BBC 6 Music

“This lady’s fabulous, very impressive” – Genevieve Taylor, BBC Radio Shropshire/Stoke/Hereford&Worcester

“May well be classed by the authoritative sources as one of the leading UK folk albums of the year” – Threechordsandthetruthuk.co.uk

“What a talent. Beautiful songs and stage presence… we booked her straight away” – Director, Costa del Folk festival

“In her thematic approach, Merryn’s album is following in the path of Tori Amos and Carol Ann Duffy…. She deserves to reap similar rewards” – Folk Radio UK

“Kirsty’s songs are brilliant mini-narratives of loss, love and the lives of others…” – Sidmouth Herald review of Sidmouth Folk Week performance 2016

“Kirsty is an incredibly gifted songwriter and musician….she is a rare talent”  – Sam Kelly, BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Winner 2016