Fairport Convention – February 2009


Venue: Pavilion Theatre, Worthing

Date: Friday 5th February 2009

Fairport were being supported on this tour by a wacky combo consisting of Ken Nicol (Albion Band, Steeleye Span and solo) and Phil Cool. Weird or what. Actually, they worked very well together; in fact they were probably better than the main act for me, and we bought their album at the end.

Their first song was the Kinks’ Sunny Afternoon. To put this in perspective, this was our first night out for quite a while, given the family circumstances and atrocious weather conditions. Admittedly, Worthing had got off pretty lightly, but it was still cold and damp, so opening with a song about lovely summer weather was definitely counter-intuitive, though good. Ken also gave us a solo instrumental, while Phil entertained us with his impersonations of famous people singing well known songs. This culminated in George W, accompanied by Donald Rumsfeld on banjo (looking suspiciously like Ken Nicol), singing a song about being an oilman. Phil also did an interesting song about Bob Dylan’s electric conversion, called Confiding In Maria. There were a few other songs, and Fairport turned up to form their backing group for their final number (apparently a tradition).

This done, Ken and Phil left the stage to the main band, and for me the enjoyment lessened. I think it just took me a while to warm up to Fairport’s style, plus the balance wasn’t ideal, as the vocals kept being drowned out. Apart from Chris Leslie, I found the singing uninteresting, and so I was quite happy they didn’t go on too long. Reynardine was good, and one or two of the others were OK, but on the whole it wasn’t my kind of music. We did get the CD from last year’s Cropredy festival, and listening to that it may well be that the acoustics were the main problem tonight, although as they had guest singers on the CD, I’ll reserve judgement till I have more evidence.

Ken and Phil returned for the final number, another tradition, and as Ken would be reporting back to Steeleye about the reception they got, we were asked to applaud as loudly as we could so as to get an encore. We were promised there was a special treat in store if we did, and to be fair, the sight of several grown men playing ukuleles, with a washboard and bass guitar rounding it off, was pretty impressive. The song was OK too, though not as special as I would have liked. The sing-along number which preceded the encore was another disappointment, as I didn’t know it, couldn’t make out the words, and very few people seemed to be joining in. Ah well, Steeleye in April, that’ll do me.

© 2009 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

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