Beer solo in Southbourne

Phil Beer is more usually one third of the acoustic roots trio Show of Hands, but for three months this year, he's out there on his own.

Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 8:45 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:12 pm

His solo tour brings him to Tuppenny Barn, Main Road, Southbourne on Sunday, March 12 at 8pm.

“It is something that has developed over the last five or six years,” says Phil. “Steve (Knightley, his Show of Hands colleague) did it more perhaps than I used to, but it is just something that has happened, that we tend to do solo tours before Show of Hands resumes. I have got a bunch of new songs that I have been rehearsing up. An old mate of mine, John Govier, who was the primary presenter for BBC Radio Devon, retired from BBC Radio Devon to run a pub in Plymouth, and it is a very good venue. That was my warm-up gig for the tour.

“It was great to have a low-pressure gig, with a bunch of new songs and bits and pieces, and by setting up the gig myself, I was able to do it in a more controlled environment. It was very relaxed. It’s not like playing a concert. It’s a pub at the end of the day, and for a pub gig, it was actually brilliant. The audience was very quiet and respectful. Pub gigs are notorious for nobody really listening. It saddens me so much that a lot of people play great music in pubs and nobody is listening or taking much notice of them. You sometimes wonder why these gigs exist at all. But we are lucky with Show of Hands. We are kind of wrapped up in cotton wool. We get to play lots of great, small arts centres where you get fantastic audiences.”

The solo shows are a chance to revisit a lot of older songs as well, Phil says – “drag them out and see if they are still alive! There is always stuff that gets rejected. It’s a sign of the times.”

But some things come full circle: “I have not sung Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A Changin’ for 40 years. But perhaps, just at the moment and because no one else sings it, it is heavily appropriate to drag out an old chestnut like that. If you look at the current climate and where everything sits, there are bits in the song that take on new meaning.”

As a solo performer Phil’s influences are numerous and varied. As well as traditional English and Celtic music, he also draws heavily on Americana and the many contemporary songwriters whose work he admires.

“But you have to consider that you are occasionally playing to younger people, and people in their early 60s will always think that everyone knows the really-well known songs because of my own knowledge. But yes, I did The Times They Are A Changin’ at the warm-up gig, and I think I got away with it. I have not tended to do Bob Dylan songs unless they are ones that we occasionally do with Show of Hands, but they are songs that start springing to kind. I think I might bring When I Paint My Masterpiece back into the repertoire…”

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