Photo by Richard Crump
There are plenty of jokes about age in the air as Fairport Convention’s latest venture gets under way. The band have been going, as anyone with a knowledge of British music should know, since the late sixties. There have been inevitable changes in personnel, but also lifetimes spent playing a fine back catalogue of classic and keeping the equally aging faithful happy.
Leamington’s All Saints provided the perfect setting for this opening show of the band’s 2019 spring tour. And there was a full congregation of Fairport worshippers there to enjoy a set which delved deep into the history of this musical institution as well as providing proof that the creative urges still bloom in the form of new material. It’s a nicely chosen set which seems to keep the band on their toes and interested while satisfying the audience’s appetite for classics. It’s not the pomp and celebration of Cropredy, but it is a terrific listen throughout.
Simon Nicol and Chris Leslie share the vocal duties, the former contributing fine guitar work and the latter just about any other instrument you could wish to hear. Mandolin, bazouki, fiddle, whistle, mouth organ all added with subtle skill. Ric Sanders’s fiddle is in as good fettle as it’s ever been, sounding markedly younger than some to its player’s jokes. At the back, the legendary Gerry Conway coaxes a vast panorama of percussion sounds from a partly electric kit, saving his bravura moment for a final assault of the cajon which would eave many a less-experienced player gasping.
But it’s Dave Pegg who, amongst all these other musical stars, still contrives to shine brightest. If there’s a better bass player on the circuit I’d be amazed. Of course there’ll be some teenage wizard in a metal band able to shred notes out five times faster, but for melodic and harmonic sense combined with an utterly lovely touch, Mr Pegg still stands above anyone you could name. Let’s hope he never tires or retires.
Creative and new as they’d like to be, Fairport are still a band defined by the towering shadow of their own history. And so it’s back into the classic early albums that we’re taken for some of the evening’s highlights. Crazy Man Michael, Sir Patrick Spens and (of course) a rollicking, full-paced Matty Groves all serving as steps up to a fabulous Meet on the Ledge ending. This excellent tour will only get better as it moves around. Don’t miss it if you like traditional music, joyous music-making and some simply brilliant musicianship.
- Matthew Salisbury, May 9th, 2019
Damian Davison has sent us a link to a wonderful film he has created based on the Fairports' version of The Sailor's Alphabet. He has done a great job on it and luckily chose the original Babbacombe Lee version of the song - and not the revised alternate lyric version. Thanks Damian.
I know he feels bad that the 50 odd years of low frequencies have shaken me follicles out and kindly offered to share some of his still huge mane with me for this pic. Do look out for Saving Grace as they plan to do more gigs.
We have a couple of months off now so Ellen and I are off to Brittany for a rest and lots of gardening. I hope to be getting the new CD - called Sit Down Stand Up - which Anthony John Clarke and I have recently recorded. Check Anthony's website and do get hold of one; he has some fab. new songs.
Looking forward to seeing you on the Fairports' May/June tour.
I have had a great response from those of you who have purchased “Off the Pegg” Thanks so much. Nigel and myself may have to do a second edition. I am very happy with it despite having spotted some spelling mistakes. Proof reading is not my forte. Sorry.
Well, from 16 – 23 June 2020, it meanders through 50 years of folk rock history, taking in the spectacular scenery along one of the most attractive rivers in Europe, on an exclusive cruise hosted by none other than Fairport Convention. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to enjoy ‘up close and personal’ the many and varied talents of Simon, Peggy, Gerry, Chris and Ric, and they are as excited as we are about the 5 evenings of on board entertainment being planned.
Please follow THIS LINK for 'Early Bird' tickets and more information.
There will be songs old and new from the Fairports of course, but so much more as well aboard the newest addition to the Amadeus Fleet ~ The MS Amadeus Imperial. Your luxurious floating home from home. With only 150 guests on board, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for fans.
How about a Fairport ‘Beatles singalong’, or even getting up to do a karaoke with the Fairports as your backing band? Wouldn’t that be a video to impress friends and embarrass the grand children?
Peggy is threatening to tell a few tales which couldn’t be included in his recent book ‘Off the Pegg’, and Gerry might teach you how to play the cajon, whilst Ric and Chris are planning solo and duo sets. And…. who could have expected this …. a couple of band members would like to demonstrate their abilities in performing magic tricks and stand-up comedy!
Expect "Fairport Unconventional" – a rare, unique opportunity for a maximum of 150 fans to share a wonderful experience and generate some magical memories with five of the nicest icons of British music history. Dress Code throughout will be smart casual / No Formal Nights.
but Peggy's been auditioning a new band member...
OK, it's actually a sculpture by Achiel Pauwels, poured in bronze by Dirk De Graeve and unveiled in 1993. It celebrates Lionel Bauwens, a singer and accordion player who often accompanied himself with a large bass drum - hence his nickname, 'Tamboer'. Peggy found him in Eeklo, East Flanders on the recent Fairport tour.