Reviewer: Helen Jones
Fairport Convention were formed in 1967 and their 1969 album Liege and Lief is considered to be the launch of English folk rock, a strange combination of electric rock and traditional folk music. Although not as popular today Fairport Convention still have an appeal which can transcend the generations.
For this, their Wintour 2015, they are supported by the combined talents of Rosie Carson, a singer/ fiddle player from Cincinnati and Kevin Dempsey, a singer/guitarist from Coventry. This unlikely looking duo work beautifully together performing traditional Irish songs such as Green Grows The Laurel through to a more modern folk song All For You. Carson has a sweet voice but the songs work best with both vocalists, Dempsey providing a needed depth of sound. For their final number they are joined on stage by the members of Faairport Convention and as they leave, the band swing easily into their own set.
Over the years there have been many changes to the line up of the band and a hiatus in its existence, but they remain true to the folk rock sound which set them on their fame over forty five years ago. With a new album, Myths and Heroes, recently released, a fair percentage of the tracks played were from the album, but this only proved that age and experience are no barrier to producing great new folk rock.
Lead guitarist and vocalist Simon Nicol is the only founding member of the group left, but he is joined now by Dave Pegg, bass guitar, vocals and mandolin; Ric Sanders, violin; Chris Leslie, vocals, mandolin, tenor guitar and whistle; along with percussionist Gerry Conway. Nicol has a stunning voice, but both Pegg and Leslie do their share, with Leslie also having written several of the tracks on the new album. New tracks such as Weightless and Clear Water are performed alongside classics such as Farewell Farewell and Crazy Man Michael. But all the songs performed show the skill of the band as musicians, vocalists and writers as well as remaining true to the roots of the band. With an average age in their sixties, Fairport Convention are no longer the young radicals they were when Leige and Lief took the music industry by storm, but they are consistently excellent at what they do.
Electric folk rock might not be one of the current flavours in popular music, but as Fairport Convention prove, both through their tours and their annual Cropredy Festival, good music will always have a place in the world.
Reviewed on 11th February 2015