CIDER With Kirsty mixes masterful folk improvisation specialists The Ciderhouse Rebellion with much-lauded, New Forest-bred vocalist Kirsty Merryn.

The collaboration has even extended to an album, The Devil’s On The Mast, which came out last summer. This provided the basis of the performance.

It tells tales of hidden lives that were the historic heartbeat of the country, the ‘wreckers and smugglers, midwives and landladies, snake-catchers and nightmen’.

And, given that the Ciderhouse duo of Adam Summerhayes, fiddle, and Murray Grainger, accordion, describe themselves, among other assets, as ‘occasionally unhinged’, what’s not to like.

Especially so, as Kirsty, who has opened for the likes of Show of Hands, Richard Thompson and numbers Phil Beer, Sam Kelly and Ben Walker as album friends, has a beautifully clear voice and is naturally set for greater things.

The Ciderhouse boys, together as a unit for just four years but with decades of experience, already have five albums behind them. They tend to spontaneously play what they are feeling, concocting unique experiences.

Thus, we strapped ourselves in and awaited some music of the moment.

A small, but enthusiastic audience greeted the trio; Kirsty, slight and in the folk ‘uniform’ of floaty maxi dress and DMs standing centre, flanked by Adam and Murray, both mostly in black.

Interestingly for a folk duo, Adam, a dead spit for actor Simon Farnaby (Detectorists, Ghosts) and the more voluble of the pair, and Murray, a slight resemblance to Willie Rushton in both voice and mannerisms, each played the same instrument all evening. No rack of spares for this pair and therefore no incessant tuning.

The pair had recently returned from Uzbekistan, where they had somehow ended up representing Britain in a music contest, with their arduous 40-hour journey home from Tashkent sure to provide the inspiration for future music.

Cider With Kirsty, as ever on such occasions, gave us the tales behind the songs as they played most, if not all, of The Devil’s On The Mast. Given this writer’s unfamiliarity with the material it was impossible to tell if they were improvising or not. Maybe that’s for the best.

The fiddle/accordion combination proved perfect for the occasion with the musicians aurally sculpting sounds behind the pure vocals of Kirsty. And they certainly knew how to end a song with impact, long finishes extracting every last note from their instruments.

We had songs about the old knocker-uppers (Knock Four Times), a tune from the perspective of deadly nightshade (Belladonna), smuggling villages and an excise man (No Grass Grows On His Grave) and the two-track sad tale of a Scottish midwife convicted of witchery (The Ballad of Agnes Sampson/The Prayer of Agnes Sampson).

As ever, murder and misery was a major contributor to the album, recorded on the North York Moors, but Kirsty’s Forest roots came to the fore with Brusher Mills, the story of the famous Brockenhurst snake catcher (he caught 30,000 in 18 years) who died in 1905 while living in an outhouse at the village’s Railway Inn (now the Snakecatcher), incidentally the same pub where Adam said he first tasted beer.

The perils and rewards of being a gongfarmer (look it up) and lost rings in Elizabethan times was recalled in the upbeat The Queen And The Nightman, while the doldrums came to the fore on Becalmed, before a Yates’ poem was the basis of The Song Of The Old Mother, which, typically, saw the threesome end on a minor key.