March 14, 2012
Fairport on ice: 45th Anniversary tour date Cromer Pavilion Theatre, Sunday March 4
Fairport Convention played in an arctic blizzard at the end of Cromer Pier last night. The journey there and back was terrifying, the breakers hitting the beaches were like a set from The Cruel Sea and inside the pier was like an interior from Titanic ! However, if we were going to go down, we would go down singing. Fairport roadies apparently couldn't even drive the gear to the bottom of the hill and had to skate it in by hand along the boards of the pier. But 45 years on from the summer of love this is a band for all seasons and their fans are too Blitz-spirit-British to let it stop them clapping their gloved hands for long. When they did those old elemental ballads about arctic seas, believe me, we were there with them!
The general tone of the show – let’s take the multi-skilled musicmanship and inspired ensemble playing as read, as they do - is light, the wearing lightly of immense skill. It is a warm fusion of folk, rock and fun warming the cockles of the one’s heart – even the ones under that pier’s glacier bridgehead that night. But there are also moments where the elemental roots of the music lift the audience into an epiphany, awesome in the old sense of that word. This is folk Britannia in all its stoical storm-tossed glory, our ‘long island story’ re-rooted by seasoned minstrels turned on by the hippy experience 45 years ago and still making it new. If I missed anything here in this show, it was the darker elements woven in by Richard Thompson and the ghost of Sandy Denny - of course, who wouldn’t miss those – but Fairport have preserved these in another way– and not on ice, despite the temperature inside the theatre. They know they are part of something bigger and include songs these Fairport legends made great during the 45 years. Nicol doesn’t sing like Sandy – Leslie in one harmony vocal actually does – but he pays the Sandy songs due honour and no-one – no-one - sings group vocals better (and more like a concert of strings) than these guys.
Can't wait for Cropredy.