Pop: Nowt so quaint as folk
FAIRPORT CONVENTION PRINCESS ROYAL THEATRE PORT TALBOT
Wednesday 10 March 1999
Tonight, though, we're in Port Talbot, a place that stands out as a bit of a sore thumb in the itinerary: a giant gas works by the sea where the air reeks of chemicals. There's something rather unlikely about seeing these genial, village cricket team types showing up to play here.
The Fairports line-up contains just one original member, guitarist Simon Nicol, plus long-time bass player Dave Pegg aided and abetted by similarly grizzled rock veterans, violinist Ric Sanders and drummer Gerry Conway. The relative new boy is singer-songwriter and fiddle/mandolin player, Chris Leslie. It's Nicol and Leslie who share the bulk of the vocal duties: the set consists mostly of Nicol singing oldies from the Fairports' catalogue, alternating with Leslie offering his own new material, with a few rocked- up jigs thrown in.
Frankly, it's an unsatisfying mix. Nicol is adequate on the old material but is hardly a Sandy Denny in the vocal stakes; nor does the likeable, Nigel Planer-ish figure of Leslie compare to Richard Thompson as a songwriter. The highlights are inevitably the oldies, "Crazy Man Michael" and the closing "Matty Groves", the centrepiece of the Fairports' finest album, Liege And Lief (1969). Ironically it's only the traditional "Matty Groves" that seems to be modern, either in conception or execution.
Yet though the evening is hardly a cutting-edge event, it is a remarkable affirmation of the band's abiding popularity and of their role as family entertainment for the hippy generation. Families sporting Fairport T- shirts are out in force, and at one point the band break into an impromptu happy birthday for a young member of the audience. The banter between the deadpan Dave Pegg and the bearded, Richard-Bransonesque Simon Nicol is effortlessly matey, and there's a sense of being in the company of the sort of pleasant, fortysomething blokes who'd be stalwarts in your local pub. But on a rainy night in Port Talbot, one can't help wishing for something a bit more gripping, and reflecting that it's a long time since the group had much to do with the evolution of British folk music.
Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigourfilm
Bannatyne leaves Dragon's DenTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
- 2 Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber reach almost £154,000 on eBay
- 3 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
- 4 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 5 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories