Review - Fairport's Cropredy Convention

Fairport Convention
Fairport Convention

If you were asked to sum up the instruments used by the acts at Cropredy, violins, cellos and bagpipes would probably figure down fairly low on most people's list.

But there was a lot more variety and quirky acts on the bill this year many of which were a very pleasant surprise.

The Bar Steward Sons of Val Doonican

The Bar Steward Sons of Val Doonican

Starting with Thursday, everyone was in fine spirits with excellent performances from Fairport Acoustic and the Oysterband were very good. Smith and Brewer were very reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel enrapturing the crowd with just themselves and two guitars. And even if Police Dog Hogan had some technical issues at the start, the good natured manner of the festival meant it was quickly forgotten. Thursday's headliner Brian Wilson proved that he was still a master musician on the piano.

While some of the musicians were unusual, the weather and the flexibility was the same. The down pours meant that Mera Royle and Midnight Skyracer were enjoyed under umbrealls and ponchos. La Vent Du Nord were very good. But from 2pm, the sun shined and all the acts were wonderful. In the evening, after watching Fish with some chips, Friday's headline act The Levellers performed their set in two halves with the first featuring a string section. While a different take, it perhaps did alienate a few people who had expectations for a more traditional Levellers set which was delivered in the second half but many had disappeared off for the night.

While the standard was high for the first two days, Saturday was still the best day with two very unusual acts dominating the acts. The Bar Steward Sons of Val Doonican complete with fluorescent tank tops and dodgy wigs were an absolute highlight. But it's not a bad achievement to perform Jump Arrand and get an audience jumping up and down after one of the members went crowd surfing in an inflatable dinghy.

The Afro Celt Sound System complimented the tone of the festival with bagpipes alongside African percussion instruments. Perhaps not natural bedfellows but it had the crowd standing to their feet in admiration at the end of their set.

The Afro Celt Sound System

The Afro Celt Sound System

Unfortunately the weather took it's toll on this poor reviewer which meant we only ended up hearing the final two acts (Al Stewart and Fairport Convention), rather than watching. The former sadly having to compete with the rain for the noise volume for us.

There were one or two sad moments with a tribute to former Fairport member Sandy Denny on the 40th anniversary of her death having helped to shape the distinctive sound of the group and Maartin Allcock who appeared with the band but unfortunately due to illness, he confirmed in the programme that this would be his last ever public performance.

But there was plenty to enjoy, everyone who we were looking forward to smashed expectations and the acts who we knew nothing about were a delight to everyone. I hope that we will see more of them soon. Fairwell Cropredy, let's hope the weather matches the music next year!

For more details about future events visit www.fairportconvention.com