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Phil Beer, an acclaimed multi instrumentalist and one of the country’s most well regarded folk musician, returned with his talented band to play to a large audience when he appeared at Lichfield’s Guildhall.
Phil Beer. Pic: Brian Marks
He started the concert with a dextrous guitar arrangement of the Randy Newman song Simon Smith and his Amazing Dancing Bear before turning in a finely judged cover of Reverend Gary Davies’ Cocaine Blues. The rest of the group joined in a for folk/blues cover of I Cannot Keep From Crying Sometimes before playing a high energy set of cover songs. The Phil Beer band consisted of acoustic bassist, guitarist and singer Miranda Sykes, bass player/guitarist and harmony singer Nick Quarmby, melodeon player Gareth Turner and drummer Steve Crickett, with new recruit Olivia John on violin. Songs by a myriad of American Singer songwriters featured during most of the set, but a number of more traditionally based jigs and reels also featured, such as the solo violin and vocal piece One Blind Fiddler that opened the second set. Strong playing was delivered by all the musicians, with soloing taken care of by the melodeon, fiddles, and much sought after guitar sound that has given Phil Beer his reputation, as well his day job as one half of Show of Hands, one of the country’s best loved folk duos. The band also played songs such as John Hiatt’s Perfectly Good Guitar, Bruce Springsteen’s Youngstown, Lowell George’s Willing and Appalachian Driftwood by the Band, with the famous harmony vocals of the last two songs being very well performed by the group’s three singers. Miranda Sykes led the group through One Good Year which featured a melodically keening slide guitar solo from Phil Beer. The concert closed with Jackson Brown’s Before the Deluge which sequed well into an instrumental coda of a number of traditional reels. An encore of Steve Earle’s Devil’s Left Hand was a high energy end to the concert.