REVIEW: Paul Rhodes’s verdict on Steve Mason and Pictish Trail, The Crescent, York

Steve Mason performing at The Crescent as part of Independent Venue Week. All pictures: Paul Rhodes

Independent Venue Week presents Steve Mason and Pictish Trail, The Crescent, York, January 30 2024

A LIGHT end to the darkest month. Steve Mason is a colourful and welcome visitor to The Crescent, a venue that he seems very comfortable in.

Mason was performing with his band, Calie Hough on drums and his long-serving keyboard maestro, Darren Morris, channelling everything else. The trio clearly means business, and the set has been well road tested.

Compared with his recent York concerts (December 2022 at the same venue and a December 2021 solo set at Stockton on the Forest Village Hall), there were few slower, sadder songs, resulting in a more dynamic set that also included a wholesome number of Beta Band favourites from his earlier days.

Steve Mason: “Conga playing was a towel-wearing nod to his inventive use of percussion in his work

While young people will never study Mason’s words as English literature, he is a master at driving home a repeated message or a melody. No More being the most obvious, but Upon My Soul was an unexpected soaring highlight.

Throughout the 80-some minutes, Mason was in motion, all eyes fixed on him as he commanded the stage. His guitar playing reflected his energy, vigorous and strident, while his conga playing was a towel-wearing nod to his inventive use of percussion in his work. The trio more than did justice to the clever, adventurous settings from his Brothers And Sisters album, with seven numbers played.

Supporting Mason was his friend and fellow sonic adventurer, The Pictish Trail, the non de plume of Johnny Lynch. Hailing from the Scottish Isle of Eig, Lynch has a wonderful left-of-centre view of the world.

A natural performer, he was warm and funny between songs; even bringing some levity to the near-death car crash that inspired him to write In Heaven Tonight. Lynch’s set drew most from his most recent album, 2022’s Island Family, with the title track memorably conjuring a bonfire night on the island with the many dead souls also present.

Pictish Trail: “A wonderful left-of-centre view of the world”

His clever, animated use of beats and effects sometimes offset some pretty forgettable melodies. Lynch’s mistake-defying hand-eye coordination while wearing a large mask is an image few will forget, unlike the song he was performing.

Mason’s songs are all cut from a similar melodic cloth, but at his best, his tunes have stood the test of time. His feted work with The Beta Band was an early purple patch – tuneful but never towing any conventional line (Dry The Rain of course, mid-set this time, finding room for Squares, also excellent and the soulful Dog Got A Bone).

It was his wonderful King Biscuit Time song I Walk The Earth that brought the house down as the first encore; arguably his best tune to cap another fine Crescent night.

Review by Paul Rhodes 

Pictish Trail’s “mistake-defying hand-eye coordination while wearing a large mask is an image few will forget”

Stockton Foresters receive the Barrass bounce of approval for murder mystery at Stockton on the Forest Village Hall

York pantomime comic stooge Martin Barrass, back row, second from right, meets the Stockton Foresters cast for Being Of Sound Mind at Stockton on the Forest Village Hall

STOCKTON Foresters Drama Group will perform Andrew Hull’s little-known gem, Being Of Sound Mind, from November 30 to December 2, much to the approval of York pantomime legend Martin Barrass.

Dame Berwick Kaler’s stalwart sidekick visited last week’s rehearsal of Hull’s murder mystery with all the twists of a corkscrew.

“The Foresters provide the highest standard of any amateur drama society I’ve ever known,” enthused Martin, ahead of the run at Stockton on the Forest Village Hall, near York. “Forget the telly. This is real live entertainment that will have you captivated from start to finish!”

Foresters’ chair Karen Ilsley responded: “Martin has been so supportive of our thriving company, encouraging our talented actors and crew, and letting us in on a few trade secrets! We are honoured to welcome him into our fold and look forward to a long and fruitful association.”

Jasmine Lingard, left, Stuart Leeming and Lynne Edwards in rehearsal for Stockton Foresters’ Being Of Sound Mind

Foresters’ newcomer Jasmine Lingard will play Penelope Asquith, who is eager to discover the truth as to why her late aunt haunts the Goodchild residence. Will the household survive the night to inherit Edward Goodchild’s fortune? Or are the inhabitants destined to succumb to supernatural forces?

Jasmine will have a further role as Eleanor, joined in director Louisa Littler’s cast by Stuart Leeming as Martin Bodmin; Martin Thorpe, as Marshall; Pete Keen, Stephen Asquith; Lynne Edwards, Rebecca Lockhart; Nicky Wild, Jane Brunt, and Russell Dowson, Shaun.

“I have hugely enjoyed working with the Foresters on this production,” said Louisa. “The cast are really responding to the challenge of creating a suspense-filled piece that will have our audience intrigued to the end.”

Stockton Foresters present Being Sound Of Mind from November 30 to December 2 at 7.30pm nightly. Doors open at 6.30pm. Stockton on the Forest Village Hall is on the Coastliner bus route and there will be plenty of accessible parking and a bar. Tickets are on sale at or Stockton on the Forest Village Shop.

Did you know?

STOCKTON Foresters are teaming up with The Fox Inn for this production. £9 tickets include a voucher for ten per cent off a meal at the village pub in January and February 2024. Vouchers will be available at the village hall.

What will panto favourite Martin Barrass and co be doing this winter at the Grand Opera House?

Martin Barrass, centre with fellow Grand Opera House pantomime stars David Leonard, left, AJ Powell, Suzy Cooper and Dame Berwick Kaler

MARTIN Barrass will star alongside Dame Berwick Kaler, David Leonard, Suzy Cooper and A J Powell in the swashbuckling pantomime adventure Robinson Crusoe & The Pirates Of The River Ouse at the Grand Opera House, York, from December 9 to January 6 2024.

Today, by the way, is Berwick Kaler’s 77th birthday. This winter, Britain’s longest-serving dame will be starring in his 43rd pantomime and second for producers UK Productions.

Meanwhile, the dowager dame’s costume and boots are on display at the V&A Museum, Cromwell Road, London, taking pride of place in the Theatre and Performance galleries until at least February 2024.

Writer-director Dame Berwick will lead his groundbreaking take on Daniel Defoe’s 1719 story of the sailor from York who finds himself marooned on a desert island, but on this occasion, Crusoe will not be sailing solo. Expect the unexpected as the familiar gang assembles again from December 9. Box office:

Berwick Kaler’s costume, rudimentary wig, trademark yellow and red socks and boots on show at the V&A Museum, London

REVIEW: Paul Rhodes’s verdict on Steve Mason, No More Tour, The Crescent, York, December 15, supported by Cobain Jones

Steve Mason’s songwriting: “An unholy mix of the football crowd and the confession chamber”

STEVE Mason has come a long way as an artist. Looking very comfortable in his semi-starlit niche at 47, his powerful blend of emotion and politics match the times we struggle through perfectly.

Over 15 songs and 75 minutes, it is tempting to see Mason’s songs as all being cut from the same cloth. From his career-defining Beta Band days, the formula emerged fully formed – emphatic rhythms, soaring choruses and a penchant for catchy slogans on the one hand, searing emotional honesty on the other. An unholy mix of the football crowd and the confession chamber.

You can trace the line between a song such as I Walk The Earth from his early King Biscuit Time period to the latest single No More. These were the last two numbers played but worked together brilliantly.

Steve Mason: “Looking very comfortable in his semi-starlit niche” at The Crescent, York. Picture: Paul Rhodes

In his CharlesHutchPress interview before his York show, Mason describes No More as being “about a country that has had its Band Aid ripped off to expose a pustule of Government hatred. But I feel immigration has brought a massive amount of joy to my life and my country, the whole country, Britain”.

The chorus chant makes his feelings obvious, but never at the expense of the melody and the groove. As a songsmith, his touch is too sure, and perhaps fixed, to stray into political hectoring.

Mason has become more accessible as he’s grown into his solo career– the euphoric Walking Away From Love a prime example of a simple idea taken to populist heights. Talking to CharlesHutchPress, Mason hinted at stepping back from this sort of chart-busting ambition (paraded on 2019’s About The Light) back into more adventurous terrain.

Keyboardist Darren Morris accompanying Steve Mason on stage at The Crescent on Thursday night

Learning from the wings was opener Cobain Jones, a singer-songwriter from Stalybridge, Greater Manchester. Jones is on the up, with his cover of Bob Marley’s Coming In From The Cold being produced by Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield no less. Jones’s powerful voice and songwriting are in a similar mode to Bradfield’s. Best heard on Into The Fray, his stage craft belied his 21 years.

Compared to his pop-up show at Stockton on the Forest Village Hall this time last year, Mason was far less chatty between songs, looking intent on sharing new material from Brothers And Sisters (due March 2023). With keyboardist Darren Morris providing a fuller sound, this was business rather than pleasure.

In the evening’s afterglow, the only question that really matters is, will Brothers And Sisters be worth the wait? The answer, on the basis of this cracking show, is a resounding ‘yes’; the new tunes were unmistakably Mason, full of interest, bite and tunes you want to hear again. Daring, defiant and iconoclastic, very much in the image of their creator.

Review by Paul Rhodes

‘It’s about us finding some peace in the eye of the storm,’ says Steve Mason ahead of The Crescent gig and positive new album

Steve Mason: Showcasing new songs off Brothers And Sisters at The Crescent tomorrow

SCOTSMAN Steve Mason has had enough.

Witness his new single, No More, now receiving buckets of airplay on BBC6 Music and providing the punchy title for his tour that stops off at The Crescent, York, tomorrow night (15/12/2022).

“The song’s about a country that has had its Band Aid ripped off to expose a pustule of Government hatred,” says the former Beta Band frontman. “But I feel immigration has brought a massive amount of joy to my life and my country, the whole country, Britain.”

No More, a plea to end to division and find common ground, is the first taster for Brothers And Sisters, Steve’s first album since 2019’s About The Light, recorded and ready for release in March 2023.

Why give the album that title? “Well, number one it’s the last song on the album. All the songs were written in lockdown, but with this one, I was thinking about Ghost Town by The Specials, with that line, ‘All the clubs have been closed down’, and I remember feeling it’s all finished,” says Steve.

“But now, if you were to accelerate forwards 40-odd years to 2022, you’d kill to go back to 1981, which is pretty crazy, in terms of personal freedoms, thinking about how many clubs there were, how you could still have a social life relatively cheaply, even if you were on the dole.

“Now, we just keep taking it and taking it, whatever’s thrown at us, but what I don’t get about this country is: at what point do we say ‘Enough is enough. No more’.”

A decade ago, on his album Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time, Steve had made the point that “we don’t do anything until the problem knocks on the door”. “Well, now it’s knocking on everyone’s door. It used to exclude the middle classes but not anymore,” he says.

“The time is right for change, probably an alternative to democracy and capitalism, when I don’t think we can say we live in a democracy anymore. Now that Boris Johnson can just lie in parliament, that’s not democracy. It’s fake, not real, when politicians are not accountable.”

That said, Steve does not consider Brothers And Sisters to be a political album. “The thing is, I did my political concept album a few years ago. I set out my stall then, and I don’t feel I have to hit people over the head with my songs when I need to remember that music is entertainment,” he says.

“I want people to put my album on after they’ve had a s**t day, so I’ve toned it [the politics] right back down. What the listener brings to the lyrics, how they fit into their life, that matters, because it has to be at least 50 per cent what the listener thinks.

“I want it to be a beautiful record, a positive record. It’s not negative at all. It’s about us finding some peace in the eye of the storm and hopefully finding some clarity when everything’s been deliberately clouded. You have to take a few steps to turn everything off.”

The last time Steve ventured into North Yorkshire, on December 14 last year, he could be found seated alone by a lamp, amid twinkling fairy lights and a Christmas tree, performing at Stockton on the Forest Village Hall.

“This time last year I was playing a lot of village halls, just me on my own,” he recalls, ahead of rolling out Beta Band and solo material with keyboardist Darren Morris by his side at The Crescent tomorrow. “I’ve really gone all out this time!

Steve Mason performing at Stockton on the Forest Village Hall, near York, on December 14 2021. Picture: Paul Rhodes

“Darren’s been playing with me for about seven years and he was on the About The Light album. This is a very stripped-out version of what I usually take out on the road, but for this album that I’ve just finished, I’m gonna change from a traditional band format.

“You can now reliably run backing tracks with drums and bass on there and then have people like gospel singers with you. But it’s been really difficult because of two years of no gigs and then a lead-in time of a year for vinyl pressings, so you potentially run into the problem of not touring for another year, but touring this way, with Darren, allows me financially to get to the point of releasing the album.”

Steve wrote Brothers And Sisters at the height of the lockdowns, looking for “some form of spirituality, as we were all were in the pandemic, but not tied to any one religion because people prefer freedom in their spirituality”.

“We must find things that we have in common when we have a government that wants to divide us – and that’s why I want them to fail miserably,” he says. “It’s important to love your fellow man and fellow woman and be aware that the information we’re fed is not always correct.”

Steve talks of striving to be an artist again, having become “somewhat reactionary” on About The Light. “I was just lucky that I realised that at some point I was going to make a record that I didn’t like, my fans didn’t like, or the radio didn’t like,” he says.

“There are elements of that record that I liked, but certainly I was dipping my toe into waters that I wouldn’t want to get any wetter.

“I’d just got married, had a three-month-old daughter, and I was feeling those adult thoughts for the first time, thinking about having to support my family through my art.

“What I’ve now managed to do is decompartmentalise my home life from my working life. I owe it to myself, to anyone who ever bought a record, to everyone who calls themselves an artist, when it’s such a precious position to be in, to be strong and take risks.”

To do so, he must swim against the authoiritarian tide. “For some reason, artists in this country are made to feel like second-class citizens who have to struggle to achieve anything, but opposition to the arts is the sign of a weak government up to no good,” he says.

Now 47, Steve’s career since 1996 has taken in folktronica experimentalists The Beta Band, King Biscuit Time, Black Affair with Jimmy Edgar and four solo albums since 2010 with the fifth upcoming. Along the way, debts led him to work on a building site and he has had struggles with depression too, but marriage and fatherhood, song-writing and performing are his life force now.

“What I would say is that, at the moment, I’m thinking a lot more about the live experience for people and how that will translate into something that’s exciting, energetic and uplifting,” he says.

“I’ve always been a very slow learner, so it takes me a long time to work things out, but on this record, I’ve tried to stretch myself vocally, much more than I’ve ever done before, singing a song in a way that’s more difficult, that requires more effort, when in the past my vocals were quiet.

“Doing something you’ve not done before, going somewhere new in a song, I just feel that the new tracks, when performed live, are head and shoulders above anything I’ve done before – and the audience reaction has been beautiful to see.”

Steve Mason, No More Tour, at The Crescent, York, tomorrow (15/12/2022), supported by Cobain Jones, at 7.30pm . Box office:

The Stockton Foresters seek out A Sting In The Tale for comical thrills in December run

Russell Dowson, left, as Max Goodman, Pete Keen, as Nigel Forbes, and Stuart Leeming, as Detective Inspector Berry, in rehearsal for the Stockton Foresters’ December production of A Sting In The Tale  

THE Stockton Foresters will stage their innovative adaptation of A Sting In The Tale from December 1 to 3 at Stockton on the Forest Village Hall, near York.

In the wake of their post-lock down production of A Bunch Of Amateurs, these thespian villagers will be out to prove once more that they are not amateurs at all, but a bunch of talented community players.

The Foresters will be presenting their account of a 1986 comical thriller by playwrights and television screen writers Brian Clemens and Dennis Spooner, whose credits include The Avengers, The Professionals and Coronation Street.

Nicky Wild’s Jill Prentice

Director Louisa Littler says: “A Sting In The Tale opens with two once-successful crime writers trying to write a play to pay off their mounting debts, then develops as they realise who better to accomplish the perfect murder than themselves. 

“With so many twists and turns, you will remain intrigued – or as happily confused as the bumbling Detective Inspector Berry – until the end.”  

Louisa’s cast will include Russell Dowson as Max Goodman, Peter Keen as Nigel Forbes, Stuart Leeming as Detective Inspector Berry, Nicky Wild as Jill Prentice and Holly Smith as Ann Forbes.

Gun shot: Peter Keen, left, and Russell Dowson rehearsing a scene for A Sting In The Tale

The Stockton Foresters have been staging shows since 1946, “entertaining families across York, always trying to bring a fresh twist to old favourites”, as chairperson and cast member Nicky Wild illuminates.

“Amateur drama was actively promoted to create, repair, sustain and develop community spirit during and in the post-war years,” she says.  

“Even our dearly departed Queen, Elizabeth II, trod the boards. Sadly, she never blessed those of Stockton on the Forest, but we continue to keep our standards high in the hope that King Charles III may pop in to visit!”

Nicky continues: “The Covid years have been hard for everyone with no live events, but our theatre group has stayed strong, remaining a fantastic outlet for audiences and actors alike.

On the case: Stuart Leeming’s Detective Inspector Berry

“It’s a place where people can escape their woes; and most importantly laugh together. So, like many before, we soldier on to entertain our troops. Community theatre will remain the backbone of village life in turbulent times.”

Tickets for the 7.30pm performances are on sale at £8 at or £10 on the door. The Stockton Foresters will be offering a paid bar and raffle to raise funds for the village community.  

The village hall is fully accessible, situated on the main Coastliner X843 bus route and has plenty of free parking on site.  

Looking ahead, Nicola says: “If you love the show and are interested in joining, the group always welcomes new members to their theatrical family to continue the story.”  She can be contacted at  

Sofa scene: Stuart Leeming’s Detective Inspector Berry and Holly Smith’s Ann Forbes

Who better to stage am-dram comedy A Bunch Of Amateurs than the Stockton Foresters’ very own bunch of amateurs!

Karen Ilsley, as Dorothy Nettle, and Stuart Leeming, as Jefferson Steel, in rehearsal for the Stockton Foresters’ May production of A Bunch Of Amateurs

THE Stockton Foresters’ first full-scale production post-lockdown will be Ian Hislop and Nick Newman’s A Bunch Of Amateurs.

This two-act comedy will be staged at Stockton on the Forest Village Hall, near York, from May 12 to 14 at 7.30pm.

The Stockton Foresters trod the boards carefully with a reduced-capacity audience when presenting three one-act plays last November, but now they are back in force.

The group played regularly to full houses before the pandemic struck and hopes A Bunch Of Amateurs will do likewise with its storyline of an amateur dramatic group’s determination to overcome all odds to stave off closure.

Holly Smith, left, Stuart Leeming and Karen Ilsley look askance in the Stockton Foresters’ rehearsal room

Written by two of the original Spitting Image writers, this fast-paced, sharp-edged comedy is performed frequently on the amateur circuit, while the film version starred Imelda Staunton, Sir Derek Jacobi, Samantha Bond and Burt Reynolds.

Louisa Littler’s cast comprises Stuart Leeming as Jefferson Steel; Karen Ilsley as Dorothy Nettle; Holly Smith as Jessica Steel; Russell Dowson as Nigel Dewbury; Jane Palmer as Mary Plunkett; Peter Keen as Denis Dobbins and Lynne Edwards as Lauren Bell.

The play’s theme resonates with director Louisa Littler, who says: “It has not been without its own real-life dramas that the Stockton Foresters have brought together their first full-length play since lockdown: a comedy about a local theatre and its struggle for survival that will have audiences hugely entertained.  

“Our group has a reputation for putting on amateur productions of the highest standard and this show certainly won’t disappoint. As the lead character declares, ‘Let’s show ‘em what a bunch of amateurs can do’!” 

If the crown/veil/hat fits: Stuart Leeming, (left), Holly Smith, Peter Keen, Jane Palmer and Karen Ilsley rehearsing a scene from A Bunch Of Amateurs

The Stockton Foresters are “really proud to have kept going throughout the past couple of very difficult years”. Weekly Zoom meetings and quizzes with banter and fun aplenty have ensured the group has survived and thrived.

“We’ve even managed to recruit several new members, which is testament to our reputation and determination to continue,” says Louisa.

Tickets must be pre-booked, available at £8.50 from Stockton on the Forest Village Shop, on 01904 400583 or by emailing “We’ll be offering a wine/juice/beer bar and our ever-popular raffle,” says Louisa. “There’s plenty of free parking at the venue, just behind the village hall.”

Please note, A Bunch Of Amateurs contains strong language.


REVIEW: Paul Rhodes’s verdict on Steve Mason and Wolf Solent, Stockton on the Forest Village Hall, near York, December 14

Fairy lights and a lamp for Steve Mason’s Christmas-season solo show at Stockton on the Forest Village Hall. All pictures: Paul Rhodes

THIS seemingly incongruous venue turned out to be a smart choice. “I have no idea where I am,” Mason joked.

Yet this North Yorkshire village hall clearly put the Scotsman at ease. The former chief of the Beta Band has been enjoying a long solo revival since Boys Outside was released in 2010. His last album, 2019’s About The Light, was a wonderfully accessible collection of pop rock songs, while 2013’s Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time fulfilled all The Beta Band’s unspent promise.

Seated alone by a lamp, amid twinkling fairy lights and a Christmas tree to the side in this beautifully maintained hall, Mason would be an unlikely choice for a Christmas party. It turns out that while his songs can be downbeat and deal with serious themes, he is great company, full of stories and funny lines. He also commands your attention on stage.

Tuesday’s audience and a village-hall Christmas tree at Steve Mason’s gig

Hopefully support act Wolf Solent (Yor- based Danny Trew Barton) was taking notes, as he was the opposite. He’s in good company – think Nick Drake’s disastrous tour of working men’s clubs.

Solent’s material feels steeped in lo-fi bands such as Acetone and Sparklehorse, which is a tough act to take to a live audience, but in the mix there were songs of quiet beauty.

Even his most ardent admirers might admit that Mason’s songs tend to sound alike, but he has an unerring knack of finding a way to bring both depth and melody. A new number, accompanied by stomping and clapping, was a prime example – with a timely message about needing light.

“I have no idea where I am,” admitted Scotsman Steve Mason at his Stockton on the Forest concert

In lockdown, Mason has become, in his words and at least partly tongue in cheek, a rampant capitalist – and he was looking fetching in one of his sweatshirts. This side of him must sit uneasily with the part that “won’t follow fools”, which was a biting line in another new composition.

His faithful cover of Roger Waters’ Mother (from The Wall) felt like a natural choice, better than his expected finale of Dry The Rain, which never quite took off. The Beta Band’s signature song works better with a band, as evidenced from his Crescent show in 2019 or his star turn on the Deer Shed Festival main stage at Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, that same year.

At his best, Mason is a bona-fide member of music’s business class and he certainly lit up a pitch-black December night.

Review by Paul Rhodes

More Things To Do in York and beyond as Plan B doesn’t stop the Christmas buzz. List No. 60, courtesy of The Press, York

CHRISTMAS shows, Christmas concerts, Christmas plays, ‘tis the season for Charles Hutchinson’s diary to be jolly full.  

Jason Manford: “Exercising the old chuckle muscle”

Busy week for comedy: Jason Manford: Like Me, York Barbican, Thursday and Friday, 7.30pm.

SALFORD’S Jason Manford revives his funny-bloke-next-door schtick for Like Me, his follow-up to “the fun we had on my last tour”, Muddle Class, a show about turning from working class to middle class that played York Barbican in February and October 2018.

“In these trying times, it’s always important to be able to get away for a couple of hours and exercise the old chuckle muscle,” reckons Manford, 40, who has tickets available for both nights at

Meanwhile, Jack Dee’s Off The Telly gig, moved from April 25 2020 to tomorrow night, has sold out. So too have Alan Carr’s Regional Trinket shows on December 18 and 19.

Filey Brigg, seascape, by Rosie Dean at Village Gallery, York

Exhibition of the week: Rosie Dean, Seascapes, Village Gallery, Castlegate, York, until January 22, open 10am to 4pm, Tuesday to Saturday.

SEASCAPE artist Rosie Dean has taken part in York Open Studios for the past ten years. Now she is exhibiting at Simon Main’s Village Gallery through the winter months.

“I feel total peace breathing the ozone, staring out to sea and focusing on the horizon line, sensing all around me and feeling the elements around me, the sights and sounds, the salt in the air. Pure contentment,” says Rosie.

Levellers: Part of York Barbican’s busy week for concerts. Picture: Steve Gullick

Curiosity concert of the week: The Magical Music Of Harry Potter Live In Concert With The Weasleys, York Barbican, Monday 8pm.

POTTY about Potter? Then exit those Shambles shops and head to York Barbican for a night of music from Harry’s films and the West End musical, performed by the London Symphonic & Philharmonic Film Orchestra with the Weasley brothers in tow.

Original actors, magic, star soloists, a choir and the orchestra combine in the debut European tour’s programme of John Williams, Patrick Doyle, Nicolas Hooper and Alexander Desplat’s soundtrack magical moments, plus selections from the Harry Potter And The Cursed Child score. 

More music in York Barbican’s crammed pre-Christmas diary comes from Levellers, Brighton’s folk-rock stalwarts, tonight and Steve Steinman’s tribute show, Anything For Love: The Meat Loaf Story, on Wednesday, both at 7.30pm. Box office:

Steve Mason: Solo gig at Stockton on the Forest Village Hall

If you seek out one gig, make it: Steve Mason, Stockton on the Forest Village Hall, near York, Tuesday, doors, 8pm; start, 8.30pm.

STEVE Mason was the frontman of The Beta Band, cult Scottish exponents of folktronica, a blend of folk, psychedelia, electronica, experimental rock and trip hop.

He first dipped his toe into solo work on Black Gold, his mournful 2006 album under the guise of the short-lived King Biscuit Time and has since released Boys Outside in 2010, Ghosts Outside with Dennis Bovell in 2011, Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time in 2013, Meet The Humans in 2016 and About The Light in 2019.

Presented by All Off The Beaten Track, Mason will play solo on Tuesday. Box office:

The poster for The Arts Barge Christmas Party! at The Crescent, York

Christmas jamboree of the week: The Arts Barge Christmas Party!, The Crescent, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm.

THREE York community musical groups, Bargestra, The Stonegate Singers and The Blind Tiger Dance Band, unite for the Arts Barge Christmas bash.

Bargestra, the 20-piece Arts Barge band skippered by Christian Topman, play jazz, swing, Beatles, ska and more. The Stonegate Singers, a community choir open to anyone, is directed by Jon Hughes, who teaches the music by ear, one part at a time, so that anyone can do it.

The Blind Tiger Dance Band, Arts Barge’s 16-piece Lindy Hop swing band with Rinkadon Dukeboy up front, brings together seasoned professionals and rising young instrumentalists. All three groups will join together to make a 50-piece ensemble for the festive finale.

Recommended but alas sold out already at The Crescent are Christmas shows by Mostly Autumn on Sunday and fellow York band The Howl & The Hum on Wednesday, both at 7.30pm.

Chapter House Choir at the double: Carols by Candlelight, York Minster, Wednesday; Festival of Carols, St Michael-le-Belfrey, York, December 18, both at 7.30pm.

THE Chapter House Choir’s Carols by Candlelight at York Minster has sold out, but a second chance to hear the York choir and its bell ringers comes at St Michael-le-Belfrey.

Tickets for a Festival of Carols are available via Eventbrite,  but do hurry because they are limited in number and selling fast.

Danny Mellor and Meg Matthews in Badapple Theatre Company’s The Snow Dancer. Picture: Karl Andre Photography

Global warming alert of the week: Badapple Theatre Company in The Snow Dancer, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Thursday, 7pm; Green Hammerton Village Hall, December 20, 2pm

GREEN Hammerton’s Badapple Theatre Company has revived artistic director Kate Bramley’s magical eco-fable, The Snow Dancer, for its latest rural tour.

Bramley’s original story blends festive family entertainment with an important eco-message and an original score by Jez Lowe, as actors Meg Matthews and Danny Mellor tell the story of the animals of The Great Wood, who are desperate for a long sleep, but find it too warm because something is awry.

The intrepid heroes in this fairy tale with a furry tail must search for the mysterious Snow Dancer to make it snow if they are ever to sleep. Box office: York, 01904 501935 or at; Green Hammerton, 01423 339168.

York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust’s artwork for A Nativity For York…Out Of The Darkness

Christmas plays of the week: York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust in A Nativity For York…Out Of The Darkness, Spurriergate Centre, Spurriergate, York, December 17, 7pm; December 18, 2pm, 4pm, 6.30pm. A Christmas Carol, Mansion House, York, December 17 to 19, 7pm.

TERRY Ram directs the second York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust community production for Christmas, drawn from the York Cycle of Mystery Plays in the old church atmosphere of the Spurriergate Centre. Box office:

The Penny Magpie Theatre Company, from York, have sold out all three Mansion House performances of director Samantha Hindman’s adaptation of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, a version seen through the eyes of modern-day schoolboy Jon, who is gradually welcomed into Scrooge’s redemptive tale. Carols, mince pies, mulled wine and a house tour complete the festive experience.

Freedom is…Johannes Radebe’s debut tour show at at the Grand Opera House, York, next spring

Leaping into 2022: Johannes Radebe, Freedom, Grand Opera House, York, April 12, 7.30pm.

MAKING swish waves with baker John Whaite in Strictly Come Dancing’s first all-male coupling, South African dancer Johannes Radebe has announced his debut tour, Freedom.

Radebe will lead a company of dancers in classic Ballroom and Latin arrangements, scorching South African rhythms and huge party anthems, as he takes you on his journey from growing up in Zamdela, to travelling the world, winning competitions and becoming a Strictly professional.

Leave your inhibitions at the door and get ready for a night of energy, passion and freedom,” he says. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or at