Thirty-five long productive years have passed between the formation of Fairport Convention in 1967 and the filming of this Anniversary Concert on February 23, 2002 at the Anvil Theater in Basingstoke England; and many talented British folk rock musicians have left their mark on the group in that span of time – most notably Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson.
The current line-up and musical direction of Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg, Chris Leslie and Gerry Conway is a far cry more traditional in their approach to British folk rock than the first incarnation with Nicol, Richard Thompson, Ashley Hutchings, Shaun Frater and Judy Dyble who were at the time adopting an American ‘west coast’ approach, drawing comparison as the British version of Jefferson Airplane.
With the arrival of Sandy Denny the group steered in another direction – one in which the group has embraced to this day – a blending of traditional English folk music with rock, and even a hint of bluegrass.
The history of the group has been marred by tragedy and triumph and numerous personal changes - which is to be expected for any band which has survived for over three decades - but as the revitalized group set about their “Y2K” tour in the year 2000 they looked to a bright future, receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002, and their album “Liege & Lief” was voted “Best Folk Album Even” by BBC Radio 2 listeners.
Soon after a 4-CD box set of rare and unreleased recordings from the band’s 35 year career set the wheels in motion to chronicle their “35th Anniversary Tour” on DVD .
The DVD performance includes 19 songs as well as interviews with the members.
Special guest vocals are provided by Anna Ryder and Vikki Clayton.
The DVD is a must have for lifelong fans of Fairport Convention, as well as lovers of British folk and Celtic rock. I even noticed a hint of Jethro Tull in spots.
Before reviewing the DVD , I must admit to being only mildly aware of the band and never fully appreciate British folk rock; but I came away with a new found respect and admiration for the group, and have since watched the entire performance again – this time as a fan rather than reviewer.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on January 18th, 2007