Fairport Convention – February 2013

Experience: 9/10

Venue: The Maltings, Farnham

Date: Friday 15th February 2013

Another good start to the year, concert-wise. It was also our first trip to the Maltings, a lovely venue. The seats weren’t the most comfortable, but the performance was great and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

The support act for this tour was Fake Thackray, aka John Watterson, who performs Jake’s songs in Jake’s own style while adding touches of his own. The songs were: Bantam Cock, The Castleford Ladies Magic Circle, Dog, The Lodger and one about women talking too much. The Led Zeppelin homage blended almost seamlessly into one of the songs, and we were well warmed up by the time Fairport joined him for Sister Josephine. (He told us that the dog song hadn’t been recorded by Jake, but there’s a song called Dog available as a download; I presume it’s the same one.)

Fairport were in fine fettle tonight, and the introductions to the songs took even longer than usual. Simon and Chris sang really well, and Simon had some trouble with tuning his instruments, causing Danny Jack’s Reward to be restarted, twice, amid much laughter. The first half set was: John Gaudie, Honour and Praise, Albert & Ted, Fotheringay, Ancient Poacher, Rosie, Hexhamshire Lass and Walk Awhile, after which they took the interval. In the second half there was a strong nautical theme at the start, with Sir Patrick Spens being followed by Mercy Bay and The Wild Cape Horn. They didn’t mention the title of the next song – it was a traditional one from the album Angel Delight and was basically Peggy Gordon in a different dress – and that was followed by Festival Bell, Farewell Farewell, The Wood And The Wire, Doctor Of Physick, Who Knows Where The Time Goes?, Danny Jack’s Reward and Matty Groves. John Watterson joined them for the usual encore of Meet On The Ledge, and that was it (till the next time).

© 2013 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

Fairport Convention – March 2012


Dorking Halls

Monday 5th March 2012

The guest act tonight was Kieran Goss, a singer/songwriter originally from Newry, but now living in Sligo. He talked about as much as, or even more than, he sang. Fortunately, it was very entertaining chat, including getting us to roar and cheer when he introduced his hit.

One boy’s treasure – nice gentle one to start

Just around the corner – very funny story with this one, about the way each singer changes a song to suit their own style. Nice song too.

The reason why – his hit, with a bit more rhythm than the others.

Reasons for leaving – another long story about Irish emigration, his sister in Toronto, and how she nearly stole the show when he performed there. Very entertaining. Good song as well.

After these solo numbers, he introduced Fairport and they sang Reach Out (I’ll be there) together, an unusual choice. Then Kieran left them to continue with their set:

Sir Patrick Spens – a good start

Walk Awhile – also good

Farewell, Farewell

Happy Birthday for sound engineer John – 31 today.

Albert and Ted – an interesting instrumental. Personally I didn’t notice the join between the two pieces of music, but then I’m not the most musically literate person in the world, and they’re a very talented bunch of musicians.

The Cell Song – one of my favourites. Chris Leslie sang this beautifully, as usual.

Genesis Hall – hadn’t heard this one before, and couldn’t make out the words. I may come to like it once I’ve listened to the CD a few times.

John Gaudie + tunes – always good fun!

Interval, with the usual retail opportunity (we waited till the end)

Second half:

Mercy Bay – Chris Leslie’s song about a ship stuck in the ice for three years. We both decided we liked it after about two lines of the first verse.

Fotheringay – preceded by a short piece of pre-recorded wordless harmony to get us in the mood. Lovely song.

Celtic Moon – Nice and lively, and with an easy to sing chorus.

Rosie – sweet little song, though the only Rosie in the audience seemed to have a very deep voice!

Jewel In The Crown – Lovely.

I Wandered By A Brookside – even lovelier.

The Hexhamshire Lass – Fairport Convention meets punk. A very mild form of punk, admittedly, sounding more like ordinary folk rock to me, but that’s not a problem for us. We certainly enjoyed it.

Hiring fair – new one on me, and I liked it.

Danny Jack’s Chase – excellent instrumental.

Matty Groves – an old favourite, and done in double quick time!

Tonight’s encore was of course Meet On The Ledge, with Kieran returning to help out with the vocals. Then off to buy up the CDs (two from each) and get the autographs with a bit of chat, and we were out into the cold night air. A great evening, and lovely to have another fix of folk music, our favourite.

© 2012 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

Fairport Convention – February 2011


Chichester Festival Theatre

Date: Tuesday 8th February 2011

This was an absolute stonker of a performance. Fairport were supported by Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts this time round, flushed with success from winning an award for best new song. They sang it for us as well, and fortunately, it was a good one – nothing like a big intro for inducing disappointment. CD already in the bag.

Fairport came on as their backing band for their last number, and then held the stage for their one opening number – a ‘brief’ version of the whole of Babbacombe Lee album. A mere forty-five minutes, and very enjoyable, if a tad long. I recognised the later songs, as Fairport have been doing mini-selections from the album for the last couple of years, and the familiarity helped with my enjoyment.

After the interval there was another good selection of songs, again dipping into the back catalogue for a number of them. Both Chris Leslie and Simon Nicol were in fine voice tonight, a considerable improvement over last year when Simon in particular sounded a bit rough. We may have caught them late in the tour last year, which can make a difference, or perhaps it was the much colder weather. Anyway, we enjoyed this even more this time, and didn’t stint ourselves when it came to the CD stall. Excellent.

© 2011 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

Fairport Convention – February 2010


Venue: Pavilion Theatre

Date: Tuesday 2nd February 2010

The support for this tour was a duo calling themselves Dark Horses – Flossie and Keith. She’s from France, via Darlington, and there were lots of laughs as she told us her story, especially how she, with a degree in English, had to adapt to the way English is actually spoke, like. Keith was also very funny, and a proper Geordie, though his accent wasn’t a  strong as Flossie’s.

They started with a couple of songs together – not bad but not really to my taste. Keith played guitar excellently, as did Flossie for her solo, and she has  a gorgeous voice. Bit nasal, but very rich and strong. After the first two songs, she did a Jacques Brel number called The Port Of Amsterdam, in French. No idea about the words, but the tune and her singing were fine. Keith did his solo next – a song entitled Kama Sutra, which included moves for the audience, leaning to the left for ‘left’, leaning to the right for ‘right’, slumping down for ‘down’, sitting up for ‘stand’ and clapping for ‘blue’. He even introduced a new move part way through when he saw one chap in the audience put his hands together as if in prayer on the word ‘alone’. As the song was full of these words, we were pretty active for a few minutes, both with the movements and laughing, which got us fully warmed up in both senses of the word.

Keith and Flossie sang a couple of songs more, enjoyable enough, then introduced Fairport and sang the first song of their set with them – Si Tu Dois Parti. This was the first time they’ve done it in the original language, thanks to Flossie’s presence. Fairport then gave us a selection of songs and tunes, old and new, including The Happy Man, Wouldn’t Say No, Jewel In The Crown, Hen’s March and other tunes, a Sandy Denny song called Rising to The Moon, Sir Parsifal, Ukulele Central, Walk Awhile, Dirty Linen (instrumental), Rocky Road (an adaptation of Prickly Bush), two Babbacombe Lee songs – Dream and Execution, Danny Jack’s Chase (instrumental), Who Knows Where The Time Goes, John Gaudie and The Bowman’s Retreat, etc. I enjoyed most of the set, though I still find it hard to hear what they’re singing. They finished the first half with The Festival Bell, and the second with an old favourite, slightly refurbished, Matty Groves.

The encore was another long-standing favourite of theirs, Meet On The Ledge. We were all encouraged to join them at this year’s Cropredy festival to sing along with this one at midnight on Saturday. From the response, it’ll be standing room only.

© 2010 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

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