ONE thing’s guaranteed at a Steve Knightley gig – there’ll be as many stories and tales to tell as songs.

The singer-songwriter half of folk favourites Show of Hands is as much about the words as the music, and the explanations and anecdotes in between add to the poignancy of songs like The Dive - a true father and son story - and Poppy Day, about a big city drug dealer selling his wares by a country town war memorial.

Aided by acoustic guitar, cello mandolin, tenor guitar and cuatro, with a hint of harmonica, Knightley deliberately steered a course away from Show of Hands’ big favourites, apart from a stripped-back Country Life. Instead we were led down a path full of self-penned gems, a traditional folk song featuring a talking mare, hawk and greyhound and a cheeky wager, a ‘bhangra-morris crossover’ and covers of Bob Dylan’s haunting, menacing Senor (Tales of Yankee Power) and Don Henley’s The Boys of Summer – spot-on for a rainy autumnal evening.

Always gigging, Knightley can be found in fields, barns, folk clubs, tents, theatres and even – five times with Show of Hands – in the Royal Albert Hall. He sings about every aspect of contemporary life, in the best tradition of folk, with an edge that gives his music a wide appeal. Among the stories were many tributes and tales of fellow Devonian David Oddy, the luthier responsible for all his instruments who died earlier this year.

He ended the evening with a song from a writer with a similar knack for spine-tinglingly clever lyrics – Mark Knopfler’s Romeo and Juliet. Just Knightley, his cello mandolin, and a very appreciative audience.