Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Cropredy 2004

It is slightly disconcerting when the first thing you see at a festival is a sign which says: "Usual campsite flooded - follow signs to new campsite"!

But it didn't turn out too bad, there had been a lot of rain in the two days before the festival but it was brightening up by the time I got there. I was glad I arrived early mind, the queues were massive a few hours later.

Cropredy is the annual 'reunion' festival organised by Fairport Convention, the 37 year old pioneering group of the genre that is known as 'folk-rock'.

This was my third Cropredy and I really enjoyed it. The atmosphere is really friendly and welcoming. Many of the punters have been coming for decades. The age range is wide with quite a few family groups, teenagers, twenty and thirty somethings and right up to pensioners.

The highlight is always the Fairpoirt set on the Saturday night - where many previous members of their often changed line up turn up to join the current line up on stage. The acts are all chosen by Dave Pegg, Fairport's bass player, and always cover a wide range of folk, blues and roots music.

Particular favourites for me this year were Mostly Autumn (a sort of Pink Floydy/All About Eve prog/folk/rock group) who I saw for the first time, and Show of Hands (a folk duo playing traditional sounding and brilliantly delivered songs). The Family Mahone featuring Radio 2 DJ Mark Radcliffe on vocals and drums were very good and very funny too.

The Friday headliners were Jethro Tull who I have wanted to see for about 20 years. The set was excellent and the musicianship superb although the mix left something to be desired as far as Ian Anderson's vocals were concerned.

I really enjoyed the Fairport set this year. There is some doubt about whether the festival will continue after this year because the main organiser of the event has been Christine Pegg, Dave Pegg's wife. Unfortunately they have separated and this throws the future of the event into doubt. There were a few emotonal moments as a result - particularly whne Christine was invited onto stage to take a bow and be presented with a bouquet by Simon Nicol (Fairport vocalist & guitarist).

The Fairport set was fantastic. A wide range of their best known songs from their 37 year history including a stunning version of my personal favourite, The Hiring Fair, and several tracks from the new CD Over The Next Hill. As usual they ended the set with a touching rendition of Meet On The Ledge.

I really hope the festival continues.

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