SETH LAKEMAN – The Hawth, Crawley 4th March 2010

Well, this was going to be interesting as I wasn’t sure what I’d make of Seth Lakeman only having seen him on a couple of TV appearances when he was up for the Mercury Awards some years ago. At the time I remember thinking to myself he appeared a little too ‘brash’ for my tastes. Having said that, pre-judging can backfire spectacularly and I have to hold my hands up particularly when it blurs my judgement towards the negative without giving the lad a chance. Rarely before a show have I experienced the buzz of anticipation from a predominantly youthful crowd (surely not at a ‘folk’ audience) and I certainly wasn’t expecting the girlish giggling from a group of excitable teenagers perusing their programmes. Still, on to the performance and my, what a performance! The first half of the show saw Lakeman in reflective mood utilising his musicians; Sean Lakeman (guitar), Benji Kirkpatrick (mandolin, bouzouki and tenor banjo), Simon Lea on drums and percussion to their full potential and I don’t think I’ve heard double bass playing as good as that displayed by Ben Nicholls since I first heard Danny Thompson when he was playing with Ralph McTell. The second set comprised of Seth presenting his ‘dance’ driven audience with ever increasing pounding rhythms and to their obvious enjoyment finished the performance with a ‘solo’ featuring his flashy double-stopped fiddle and close-miked foot-tapping. Andre Rieu please note how it should be done. Following a well-deserved encore we had to brave the freezing elements of a cold March night but at least there were plenty of glowing faces.

PETE FYFE

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Artist’s website: www.sethlakeman.co.uk

Fairport Convention Cropredy 2009 Festival Review

With the threat of hitting the big four O this year, it was time to try some new activities to try and prove to myself that I was still young and restless! Courtesy of “the one and only” ..Folkmaster.. (apologies Darren), I trotted along to Fairport Convention’s Cropredy Festival armed with cold weather gear (well, after 4½ years in ….Brisbane…., the ….UK…. is cold – and camping would be freezing!) and a very open mind – what had I got myself in to?

The day dawned fine and sunny as I arrived in Oxfordshire, the tent was erected with relatively little swearing and angst although it did take strategic and careful logistical planning to avoid the large lumps of cow dung! All sorted and unpacked and it was off to find out what all the fuss was about.

With no real prior knowledge of Fairport Convention (heresy, I hear!!) and my life obviously lacking, I was both enthusiastic and cautiously optimistic about the education that lay in store. Armed with vino, camping chair and souvenir programme, (note the priorities!), I set myself in amongst the other festival revellers eagerly awaiting the entertainment. We were not disappointed. What an array of talent, variety and sheer chutzpah! It was fantastic. There were acts for all – traditional folk; folk rock; folk punk (!) (or should that be punk folk?) and pop! It was three days of sheer delight!

Along with the music, there was the Cropredy atmosphere – an aura of comradeship, fun and don’t-care attitude prevailed. When they say that it is ….Britain….’s friendliest music festival, they weren’t kidding! Browsing around the many stalls, children’s entertainment and food vendors just added to the sense of ambience.

But back to the music and where to start. All the artists were excellent but my personal highlights included Richard Thompson and I was thrilled when he played Vincent Black Lightning 1952 as that was my introduction to his music; Dreadzone – energetic, crowd-pleasing and thumping good tunes!; Seth Lakeman – having danced to his set at Stokes Bay Festival, it was great to see him again and Cormac Byrne from Uiscedwr who joined him on Lady of the Sea; Nik Kershaw (my nostalgic return to the 80s and the heady days of youth.) Colvin Quarmby – with Gerry Colvin’s groovy hands – they deserved a set of their own!! And of course, the incomparable Fairport Convention who were joined by the lengendary Yusaf Islam aka Cat Stevens.

When Sunday morning came and it was time to dismantle the tent and begin the journey home, a sense of mild gloom came over me – my first Cropredy was over – never again would I be a Cropredy virgin but…. Although the first time is special, the next time I would be a veteran.. roll on Cropredy 2010!

Sarah Burch August 2009

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Festival website: http://www.fairportconvention.com