Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Review: Fairport Convention, Cheese & Grain Frome 3/2/2015

I had a great time seeing Fairport Convention in Frome last night. This is what happened. My friend Jacquie called at mine at 6.00 and we had a bite to eat and then got a taxi to the Cheese & Grain in Frome. I have seen some great acts here over the years but I think last nights show was one of the best ever. The venue has been refurbished since I was last here two years ago with a new foyer and bar and cafe area which is really nice. It was more or less a full house for Fairport and promptly at 8.00 Ric Sanders came on to introduce the support act who were Rosie Carson and Kevin Dempsey. Rosie hails from Cincinnati I think and Kevin comes from Coventry.Rosie is tall and beautiful and plays violin and sings exquisitely and Kevin is a superb guitarist. They played instrumentals and songs such as Green Grows The Laurel, The Music Ringer, a song about making shoes which might be called Peg It All. Kevin gave the guitar players in the audience a handy tip, " Don't buy your guitar strings from Aldi". Ric and Gerry joined them on stage for their last song All For You and by the end all the members of Fairport were on stage.
The current line-up who have been together a long time by Fairport's standards are Gerry Conway, Dave Pegg, Chris Leslie, Ric Sanders and Simon Nicol.
 Rosie & Kevin then left the stage after their warmly received set and Fairport sang Sir Patrick Spens from their Full House album. It was great but they were not here tonight to just relive old history, no siree, the band were here to promote their new album of new material called Myths & Heroes. I am listening to it at this very moment and I must say that it is a great album.They performed the title track next which rocked at a frenetic pace.Chris Leslie excelled on this one and Gerry Conway and Dave Pegg showed what a great rhythm section they are. A Ralph McTell song Clear Water was next with Simon Nicol  taking the starring role on vocals and acoustic guitar. The next song was very moving and called Weightless and written by James Wood and Chris Leslie who sang the lead vocals. Another Ralph McTell song followed which I think is called Around Wild Cape Horn and is the true story of an American man  called Irving Johnson who sailed from Hamburg on a four-masted Tall Ship around the world and filmed the voyage.
Ric Sanders then introduced his own new composition called The Gallivant which was brilliant. On the new album the band are joined by seven members of Joe Broughton's Conservatoire Folk Ensemble on this tune and it is great. The following song is very poignant and called John Condon who was an Irish soldier who was believed to have been only fourteen years old when he was slain in the first world war. Being from an Irish background his story intrigued me so I looked him up on Wikipedia and it said that it is now thought that he was actually eighteen when he died in Belgium but that doesn't make the song any less powerful. Simon did a great job singing on this one. After that sombre melancholy song the mood was much lighter for the last song of the first half  Bring Me Back My Feathers written by Anna Ryder which is a very catchy jolly song with Chris excelling himself on vocals and banjo.

                                                                                 In the interval I knew I had to get the new CD in case I didn't have time at the end. Having played it three times now I must say it is a labour of love, not only in the great,well produced music but in the whole design and artwork and a brilliant booklet with all the information you need. At the back of the hall we met Simon Nicol who was kind enough to let us take a couple of photos. All the band were chatting to the fans which is great of them.You would think they would prefer a bit of a sit down in the interval.
                                                                        The second half began with Peggy and Chris Leslie starring in The Fylde Mountain Time and Roger Bucknall's Polka. The tunes take their name from the Fylde Guitar Company who made Peggy and Chris's bouzouki's. The Wassailing Song was next featuring Chris Leslie. If you don't know what wassailing is look it up on Wikipedia like I did. It's all to do with going from house to house singing Christmas Carols in the winter or singing to trees in cider apple orchards in the summer. Mercy Bay was the next song. It is all about Lord Frankin's doomed expedition to the icy wastes of Canada in 1850 and I thought Gerry Conway on drums who had kept a great rhythm all night was really brilliant on this one. Love At First Sight written by Chris was next and is a song about a girl who disguises herself as a man to join a Morris Dancing team. A song from Liege And Lief, one of the best albums ever made followed which is Crazy Man Michael.
 I did my best to film this one but it was difficult filming between the heads in front and impossible to get the whole band in shot. Still, I think the sound is quite good. You can see the result below. Festival Bell  followed with Fairport trying to get the audience to join in with the one word chorus of  'Jack' which was quite good fun. Also they told us about their annual festival which is held at Cropredy and amongst their guests this year is Emmylou Harris. I would really like to go to that because Emmylou is great and I have never seen her live but I have made lots of other plans for the summer.
                                                                   Then disaster struck, Jacquie pointed to her watch. It was 10.30. Two and a half hours had shot by and I had ordered a taxi thinking it would be all over by now.It's my own fault for going to all those 90 minute Van Morrison shows. It was too late to cancel the taxi, he was already waiting. We heard one more song which was called Home and written by PJ Wright. Simon did another great performance on this and then we had to drag ourselves away. I bet Fairport played on for at least another half an hour. They looked like they were enjoying themselves. I wasn't familiar with a lot of the songs but I didn't mind one bit because I don't like bands that live in the past. Fairport Convention are alive and well and coming up with great new music.We headed home in time for a last drink in The Ludlow Arms after a great night. Thank you very much Fairport Convention and I urge you to see them on this tour if you get the chance and buy the new album because it is great.

                                                                      THE END.                         
                           

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