Folk-rockers Steeleye Span in Eastbourne with new compilation album

Pioneers of folk-rock Steeleye Span are on the road on the back of a new compilation album.
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They are playing Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park Theatre on Sunday, November 19 and Brighton’s The Old Market on Thursday, November 23. The album is the Green Man Collection bringing together tracks from their recent albums with new versions of three Steeleye classics including a reworking of Hard Times featuring Status Quo’s Francis Rossi and a cover of Elvis Costello’s Shipbuilding.

Julian Littman, a member of the band since 2011, is delighted to be back on the road with the band as they continue to celebrate a 50th anniversary which was cut short by the pandemic.

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“The anniversary was 2019 and we toured and we would have carried on into 2020 but then obviously we had the pandemic. Generally speaking for musicians the pandemic was unbelievably difficult as it was for so many people but I was very lucky that I've got a system at home where I can record. I recorded educational songs with singers singing down the line to me. They didn't have to send a recording to me. I had to update the technology a bit but it was just amazing. I know it sounds terrible but I had a very busy lockdown and then it all stopped when the lockdown finished!”

Steepeye Span - pic by Peter SilverSteepeye Span - pic by Peter Silver
Steepeye Span - pic by Peter Silver

As Julian says, bands are still finding their way a little post-pandemic. Or more accurately, audiences are still finding their way back: “I do think people are still a little bit worried going into crowded places but also the thing about Covid was that it was really cheap to live at home. Having a beer at home is about a tenth of the price of going out and having one but also you've got the whole thing of Netflix and all the other online platforms. The motivation to go out just became less with all the stuff that you can just do at home. But as a band I think we’ve just got to carry on doing what we're doing and maybe people are beginning to come a little bit more. I would say it's probably still about 20 per cent down on 2019.”

The good thing about Steeleye Span is just the name will get people out: “Steeleye Span never really stopped. We do all the favourites and all the traditional stuff but we're also doing new things. We either adapt the old traditional stories and ballads and old favourite tales but sometimes it's new material. With the compilation album out we've got four new tracks on there.”

Obviously in the live shows there are certain tracks that they cannot possibly not do, for instance All Around My Hat – a song known as Hat within the band – and Gaudete: “There are some bands that don't like doing their old hits but we are completely happy to do them.”

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Julian joined the band n 2011: “I would have been quite some prodigy if I had joined in 1969! What happened was that I was really good friends with Liam Genockey, the drummer. We were both in Gerry Rafferty's band back in the day.”

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