Steeleye Span: World Tour 2004 Review

Most Steeleye Span fans will find all the information they need in the sidebars to be found on either side of this review and the set lists contained at the bottom. From perusing such information we can discover that the disc has a reasonable duration of almost two hours; encompasses 18 tracks and two encores (plus a drum solo); takes in material from all over the band’s career (from their debut album to the present day, and both their own compositions as well as traditional arrangements); and has a line-up that includes Maddy Prior on vocals, Peter Knight on vocals and violin, Rick Kemp on vocals and guitar, Ken Nicol on vocals and bass, and Liam Genockey on drums.

Those wishing for a little bit more information, however, may also be pleased to hear than this disc is as inauspicious as the concert itself. Recorded at the Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire as part of their 35th anniversary tour, the gig is a low-key affair on a stage of reasonable, if never overwhelming proportions, and captured on digital cameras. Indeed, the disc offers what the actual audience would no doubt have wanted, and that is simply the songs and the band giving a good performance with minimal fuss. Certainly, there is no sense of kineticism, rather the editing is decidedly restrained and the only piece of trickery up its sleeve is the occasional fade. That said, the picture quality isn’t perfect, and suffers from being a little soft whenever the footage isn’t dealing in close-ups (though this may be a flaw in the original material rather than a fault in the disc’s production). Moreover, the 1.66:1 ratio is rendered non-anamorphically and the image is also blighted on occasion by artefacting. Then again, such flaws may also be deemed decidedly minor by fans wishing to get their hands on a Steeleye Span disc, especially as they have, to date, been so scarce.

As for the soundtrack, the sleeve comes with the proud proclamation that “no overdubs or studio trickery” have been employed. Now this may very well be the case, but the DD5.1 mix does feel a little overdone. The vocals are generally kept central but everything else has been evenly spread around so that the rear channels seem to be over employed. Of course, this creates an enveloping mix, yet it’s too much for this kind of music; Steeleye Span are not the kind of band which create a wall of sound.

As a bonus the disc also includes a handful of extras in the shape of a brief interview with the band members and a pair of encores: Cam Ye O’er Frae France and Gaudete. These latter pieces are self-explanatory and of the same quality as the main concert, whilst the former is only able to provide soundbites over its brief three-minute duration, though we do get input from all the band members as they offer their thoughts on the anniversary tour.

Set Lists

Set One
King Henry
Padstow
Prince Charlie Stuart
Four Nights Drunk
Who Told the Butcher?
Mantle of Green
Long Lankin
Samain
All Around My Hat

Set Two
Tam Lin
Let Her Go Down
Liam's Drum Solo
Drink Down the Moon
Si Begh Si Mohr
Betsy Bell and Mary Gray
They Called Her Babylon (The Siege of Lathom House)
The Blackleg Miner
Sir James the Rose
Van Diemen's Land

Film
6 out of 10
Video
6 out of 10
Audio
6 out of 10
Extras
4 out of 10
Overall

6

out of 10

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