It was a busy and buzzing night at Lighthouse – the wonderful Hairspray was still packing out the Theatre and acerbic stand-up Stewart Lee was deconstructing comedy to a packed concert hall.

And squashed in a corner in the Sherling Studio was the man once dubbed the world’s greatest guitarist.

Page? Beck? Clapton?

None of the above – step forward instead Martin Simpson, folk player extraordinaire, whose 45-plus year career to date has seen him receive an incredible 32 BBC Folk Awards nominations.

The last time I saw him live he was playing second fiddle (guitar actually, but you get the picture) to Dom Flemons, multi-instrumentalist and purveyor of neotraditional old time tunes, in tent in a field in north Dorset.

And that’s just the way Simpson is – happy to share the limelight with the likes of Jackson Browne, June Tabor, Richard Hawley, Bonnie Raitt, Danny Thompson and Richard Thompson as well as ploughing his solo folk furrow.

Tonight, however, we had him to ourselves. The diminutive northerner, born in Scunthorpe 67 years ago, may look like Bobby Ball’s brother, but boy he can play.

The intimate setting of the studio was perfect to watch a genius in action close-up and Simpson also doesn’t disappoint in throwing in plenty of tales as he introduced songs as well as being generous in the amount of covers he included.

He played material by Woody Guthrie (Deportee – it saved him writing a song about the state of the world today), the aforementioned Tabor (Donal Óg / Young Donald – more than 50 years after he first heard it) and Bob Dylan (Buckets Of Rain).

And that’s not to mention Mae Boren Axton’s Heartbreak Hotel, Robb Johnson’s Palaces of Gold, Lyle Lovett’s extraordinary tale of his family’s tragedies, Family Reserve, Jackson C Frank’s exquisite Blues Run The Game and work by Leon Rosselson and Stefan Grossman.

Heavily influenced by Americana in both style and song choice (he lived in California for 15 years), Simpson showcased the American singer Craig Johnson who made but one solo album before his untimely death in 2009, performing two tracks, Damned Old Piney Mountain and New Harmony. Worth checking out.

Our feathered friends featured heavily (Simpson is very much an aficionado) – from red kites and buzzards to hen harriers and having a song about them commissioned by Chris Packham. Sky Dancers features the immortal line ‘the birds complete the skyline’, donated by Simpson’s Sheffield neighbour Richard Hawley.

Highlight among many? The slide guitar, obviously, but possibly Never Any Good, Simpson’s sideways tribute to his late father.