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Show of Hands celebrate new Live Music Act at the House of Commons tomorrow

April 16th 2012

Leading on from their fourth sell-out gig at the Royal Albert Hall on Easter Saturday, Show of Hands are due back in London tomorrow (Tuesday, April 17) for a special celebration to welcome the new Live Music Act.

The event at the House of Commons is being organised by UK Music and the Musicians’ Union and, amongst other musicians and special guests, Steve Knightley, Phil Beer and Miranda Sykes have been invited as sole representatives of the folk roots genre.

The Live Music Act, which will cut red tape for the performance of live music in small venues, is expected to come into force in October and is seen as a major milestone which will reinvigorate the British music scene.

Overturning the 2003 Licensing Act, it was introduced as a private members’ bill by Tim Clement-Jones in the House of Lords and has been sponsored by Liberal Democrat culture spokesman Don Foster in the House of Commons. It is rare for private members’ bills to become acts of parliament.

Effectively, the new legislation means that small venues in England and Wales – under a 200-person capacity – will no longer need local authority permission to host performances of live amplified music between 8am-11pm.

Michael Grade, Joan Bakewell and Feargal Sharkey were among those who strongly supported the action.

The band MP4, described as “the world’s only parliamentary rock group” are due to play live at the event.

Show of Hands famously berated former culture minister Kim Howells in Knightley’s song Roots for a comment he made in a 2001 Commons debate about the number of musicians permitted to play on licensed premises, then restricted to two.

Howells said: “For a simple urban boy like me the idea of listening to three Somerset folk singers sounds like hell!”

Knightley recalled that in his lyric:

And a minister said his vision of hell
Is three folk singers in a pub near Wells
Well, I’ve got a vision of urban sprawl
Pubs where no-one ever sings at all

The song, an impassioned defence of England’s musical heritage and identity, was nominated for Best Original Song in the 2006 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and the single reached No 4 in the HMV download chart.

Howells, invited to the band’s 2007 “Big Gig” at the Royal Albert Hall, wrote with his apologies but said he was “tickled pink” that his unkind words had provoked such a good song.

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Show of Hands are undeniably one of the strongest current forces in acoustic music - England's finest and most popular roots duo and something of a "people's band".

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BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards