Their visit to the Colchester Arts Centre on Sunday 17th February 2013 was part of their 2013 Winter Tour, which started on 31st Jan in Tewkesbury and finish at the London Union Chapel on Saturday 9th March. They return to Essex once more, playing at Clacton’s West Cliff Theatre next Saturday (2nd March).
The current Fairport line up is close to perfect. Dave Pegg’s masterful bass and Gerry Conway’s drums provide an excellent rhythm section. Simon Nicol’s guitar helps to create a real folksy sound while Chris Leslie provides the melodies on an assortment of instruments, including a penny whistle in one song.
They played many songs from their earliest albums, with Leige and Lief featuring the most, as well as new songs from their latest album, Festival Bell. The latest compilation album, By Popular Request, was mentioned several times, and it seems that much of the concert was based on this song list, which was created by asking Fairport fans which songs should on on the albums.
Each song was introduced nicely in true folk fashion by explaining the origins of the song, who wrote it, who created the music, and how much was drunk during the process.
For me the highlights of the 3 hour set were Fotheringhay and Who Knows Where the Time Goes?, both Sandy Denny songs, and Rosie, Matty Groves and of course Meet on the Ledge.
The Hexhamshire Lass was fun, again, with a story beforehand telling how the After the story of the song, Sir Patrick Spens made sense to me for the first time. The Wood and the Wire was another great song, a song dedicated to folk instruments – guitars and mandolins.
The new songs were welcomed too. They sung Festival Bell, the title track of their new album, Festival Bell, which is named after the new church ball in Cropredy church, which was dedicated to Fairport Convention (who have been holding an annual “reunion” festival in Cropredy for about 40 years now).
Fairport Convention in 2013
The Fairport Convention line up at the moment is:
- Simon Nicol – guitar, lead vocal
- Dave Pegg – bass guitar, mandolin, backing vocal
- Ric Sanders – fiddles, occasional keyboards
- Chris Leslie – fiddle, mandolin, bouzouki, lead vocal
- Gerry Conway – drums and percussion
Simon Nicol is the sole founding member from 1967. Dave Pegg joined the band in 1969, Ric Saunders joined in 1985 (the same year that Maartin Allcock joined), Chris Leslie joined in 1996, and Gerry Conway is the new guy, having joined in 1998. Nicol, Pegg and Leslie sang really well together and seemed at complete ease with each others singing style. The harmonies were good. They had to be, as they sang some challenging songs which had previously not been sung live since Sandy Denny performed them!
At the end of the concert they thanked the team at the arts centre for providing such a good venue. The venue was indeed excellent, providing single level seating for all – although I chose to stand at the back. The sound and acoustics were excellent and the venue had a great atmosphere.
This was only the second time I have seen them live, the first time was at the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend in 1989, I think. According to myfairpoint.net they played at the Cliffs Pavillion on February 18, 1989, which is a neat 24 years ago today. I hope to see them again soon.
If you want to listen to some Fairport Convention then you can order most of their albums from their official shop: http://www.fairportconvention.com/catalogue.php. Frustrated at not getting a recording contract in 1979, Fairport Convention members set up their own record label, Woodworm Records, and then after this had to be closed down, Matty Grooves Records was founded. The new album is also available in MP3 download.
The Colchester Arts Centre hosts several folk acts throughout the year – it is featured as one of your Essex Folk Music Venues.