AFTER a recent performance I was approached by a kindly gentleman who said: “You were in the folk band weren’t you?”
Slightly stung by this impromptu pigeon-holing, a friend helpfully suggested he might have said: “You were in the old folk’s band, weren’t you?”.
Fortunately Fairport Convention proved to me last night that there are many reasons to be proud and positive about being ‘folk’ and old(ish).
The vitality and variety of folk music never ceases to amaze me, and being old(ish) just means you have the experience to play songs that bit better.
Fairport, into their 41st year and on a 30-date back-to-back tour of Britain, were as vibrant as ever.
After an entertaining opening slot by solo singer-songwriter and guitarist John Anthony Clarke, the Fairports kicked into a stunning set that showed just how many different hues can be created within the framework of folk music.
A big bonus was the dusting off of three tracks from the 1971 ‘concept’ album John Babbacombe Lee, to hear these songs, which the band have not played live for around a quarter of a century, was a rare privilege.
But I love Fairport most when then get down with the dance music.
The highlights were a magical rendition of Mock Morris and a thumping version of Matty Groves followed by a series of raucous reels that were delivered in style with bass player Dave Pegg and drummer Gerry Conway providing a rollicking rhythm platform, to which singer, guitarist and founder member Simon Nicol added the colour, and allowed the twin violin attack of fiddler Ric Sanders and mandolin maestro Chris Leslie to just soar away.
And the Fairports were treated to a near full-house of folk folks who probably can’t wait to be wowed again by these wonderful, old(ish) purveyors of fine music.
Here’s to next year’s tour!