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Fairport Convention at Cropredy Convention, Oxfordshire - live review

Come all ye rollin’ minstrels – Fairport hit a half-century

Crowd shot

It must be a bit special if Robert Plant’s here. Joe Brown, Danny Thompson and some other famous faces are also in attendance this weekend, celebrating 50 years of folk rock’s first family at their own 20,000-strong festival in a field near Banbury.

The current Convention (Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg, Gerry Conway, Ric Sanders and Chris Leslie) bookend a three-hour Saturday night headline slot with interludes that start with a rip-snorting set from the ‘Fairport Toddlers’. Nicol lines up beside Richard Thompson, Ashley Hutchings, Dave Mattacks, Ian Matthews and Judy Dyble, and the teen-era band fire up Time Will Show The Wiser and a jamtasticReno, Nevada complete with traditional dishcloth knitting byDyble. Eccentric and exhilarating, we’d like to see a full set by this super-rare assemblage again, please.

Soon, further incarnations resurrect and regenerate: Chris While handles Sandy Denny’s sublime parts on Come All Ye and Who Knows Where The Time Goes; PJ Wright and Sally Barker gently flutter Fotheringay’s flag with Maartin Allcock; Ralph McTell is resonant and assured on Wedding Dress (and more).

By the 142(ish) verses of Matty Groves, the stage is getting rather full, and then there’s The Big One to unite the whole field and all members and guests present: the simply wonderful Meet On The Ledge. Touching, evocative and more than a bit special.

Jo Kendall

Embracing weird, wild and wonderful sounds, Prog's Associate Editor Jo's also a Classic Rock columnist, an avid tea-drinker and cupcake fancier.