It's now over 30 years since Steeleye Span were last in the charts. But, although that was best reflected in the age of the audience at the Alex, Maddy Prior and her band showed there's plenty of life in them yet.

They've come a long way since the mid-1960s and are probably remembered for just two songs.

Gaudete spent the festive season of 1973 in the Top 20, trailing in the wake of the then No 1, Slade's Merry Xmas Everybody.

And they were back for another crack at the Christmas chart two years later, wearing their green willow with All Around My Hat, which made it as a Top 10 hit at a time when Bohemian Rhapsody was changing the whole face of rock culture.

Gaudete did not feature on this highly entertaining occasion, which deserved more than the one encore.

But All Around My Hat did, closing the first half of a two and half hour set, complete with audience singalong bit.

Many of the songs are steeped in English social history, as can quickly be construed from titles like The hard times of Olde England, The Story of the Scullion King, Lord Gregory, intermingled with Irish jigs. Not to mention the excellent Padstow, a homage to what goes on in a certain old Cornish town every May day.

As one would expect of a group with a new double CD out next week, Folk Rock Pioneers in Concert, Steeleye Span have plenty of new stuff with which to entertain their big collection of faithful fans.

They may look a combination of off duty solicitors and ageing hippies but, fronted by Maddy, who has clearly aged very well, helped by some great banter between songs, they showed their brand of folk rock music is timeless.

It might have been more the wife's cup of tea than mine prior to Monday night, but I'll certainly hang around for another listen once I've finally bought her the album.

Ged Scott