FAIRPORT ACOUSTIC CONVENTION – Fairfield Halls, Croydon (11.05.11)

Taking their seats for this performance at Croydon’s Fairfield Halls the legendary Fairport Convention (Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg, Chris Leslie, Ric Sanders and Gerry Conway) delved into their extensive catalogue of songs/tunes starting with a spirited version of “Walk Awhile”. Following on with Leslie’s take on Lord Franklin’s ill fated expedition “I’m Already There” with it’s evocative two chord introduction (a bit like that employed on Paul Simon’s “Old Friends”) the group have found a songwriter to vie with Steve Tilston and Jez Lowe when it comes to writing in the traditional idiom. This is possibly just as well as Nicol somewhat humorously (or negatively depending on which way you read it) dismissed the ‘folk’ element of the band’s material even though, as he said, it is the ‘folk’ material that set the band apart from that of other mainstream ‘rock’ acts. Armed with an array of instruments that would have made a Hobgoblin stall proud including fiddles, mandolins, ukuleles, bass, guitar and drums the quintet really lived up to their reputation as multi-instrumentalists and with a set that predominantly featured tracks from their latest ‘Festival Bell’ CD along with several tunes courtesy of Sander’s sawing strings the onstage bonhomie made the time whistle by. Of course, established favourites such as “Matty Groves”, “Meet On The Ledge” and a truly superb Nicol led version of Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” were wheeled out to the obvious delight of the audience whilst the anthemic “Meet On The Ledge” brought everything to a fitting finale.

PETE FYFE

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