Concert Review – Gigspanner

Concert Review: Peter Knight’s Gigspanner 1st March 2014 Lichfield Guildhall

Reviewed By: Ben Macnair

Steeleye Span alumnus Peter Knight bought his latest musical project Gigspanner with him when he returned to play at Lichfield’s Guildhall.

The virtuoso violinist was assisted by guitarist Roger Flack and percussionist Vincent Salzfaas, as they played a wide ranging repertoire with elements of folk, rock, and world music. With a sound that ranged from the sweetest of melody playing, to ethereal screeches and some jazz, this was a night that was full of musical invention, and taste. The trio started with the long form slip-jog of ‘The Butterfly’ before the African beat and pizzicato powered ‘Seagull’. Their first folk song was the tragic narrative story-song of ‘Mad Tom of Bedlam’ which featured exemplary harmony singing, as well as a vocodered acoustic guitar solo. The traditional Irish aire of ‘She Moved through the fair’ went through a modern treatment, featuring fleet violin parts mixing with an inventive soundscape.


The second half of the concert was a world tour of musical styles. Peter Knight’s own composition ‘From a Lullaby kiss’ was a deeply melodic meditation, and a reading of O’Carolan’s ‘Planxty Irwin’ showed the more celtic side of the band’s nature. Bluegrass crept in with a reading of the popular ‘Sitting on top of the world’ which featured an inventive guitar solo, full of drama and interesting note choices.

Some stunt violin work came in for the next piece, with the violin being played by three bows during a complicated Appalachian exercise, and jazz was featured in ‘Autumn Leaves’ the mournful central theme giving way to a percussion solo of feral intensity. The set was closed with a more experimental, long form piece in ‘Sharpe Goes Walkabout’ combining sprightly English folk fiddle playing with a soundscape that bought forth images of the outback. An encore of ‘Rolling down the ball’ was a suitable choice for this concert which showed three very talented players to their best advantage.

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