FOR those of us in the Lighthouse audience familiar with the live work of Show of Hands (and that was most of us, to be honest) this was something unusual and special.

The enforced absence of double bassist and beguiling singer Miranda Sykes on maternity leave (baby Wilfrid is now five weeks old) has opened the door for Cormac Byrne, otherwise known as Seth Lakeman’s percussionist, to step into the breach.

And thus, instantly, the dynamic is changed for this Joint Venture tour with Byrne’s impressive array of instruments and his expertise in bashing them allowing SoH stalwarts Steve Knightley and Phil Beer to reimagine some old favourites and introduce new numbers with a wholly different style.

Unexpectedly they started with two of their traditional finishers, Cousin Jack and Country Life, well augmented with percussion, followed by the cod reggae piece Dreckly.

Haunt You, the classic Knightley/Lakeman composition, followed, then the old Adrian Mannering song My True Love and the bhangra sounds of Battlefield Dancefloor, the song cataloguing how some of our greatest military commanders may have had a little too much pop on the eve of major battles.

A short period of introspection followed with Knightley’s Cold Frontier and Exile, before we were snapped out of it with three lively Beer tunes, Jenny’s Waltz, Gwennap and Breakfast for Altan.

The unfamiliar track You’ll Get By preceded the very familiar Leonard Cohen standard First We Take Manhattan. Then came the sublime Santiago, complete with audience singalong (this was folk, after all) which is always welcome at any Show of Hands gig.

They certainly saved the best until last with a rousing version of Galway Farmer, driven to the finish line by Byrne and the encore of the emotional The Train in which Beer somehow twists his fiddle to sound like it was made in India.

It was another top show from Show of Hands, utterly different in style, content and composition from anything of recent years and all the better for pushing boundaries.