Folk-rock icons still relishing life on the road

Fairport Convention
Fairport Convention

Fairport Convention have been playing music for an extraordinary 51 years and show no sign whatsoever of becoming jaded by recording and gigging.

The folk-rock legends’ spring tour once again sees them traverse the length and breadth of the country to bring new tracks and their enormous back catalogue to intimate venues.

That includes a Wigan date at The Old Courts (a North West exclusive for the borough).

And having come to the parish church with his Albion Christmas Band project multi-instrumentalist and singer Simon Nicol is looking forward to it.

He said: “The late lamented David Cartlidge put on a great series of acoustic music at the church.

“The Old Courts is a new venue toi me but it’s cracking seeing buildings repurposed for culture, without sounding too posh about it.

“Wigan has a great catchment area and we’re very fortunate to have a loyal following which will travel.”

Fairport emerged in the 1960s and albums such as Liege and Lief and The Unhalfbricking are now considered pivotal in folk-rock as well as showcases of British traditional music at its best.

Simon says the band never planned on becoming a kind of national treasure, nor on establishing one of the biggest folk festivals in the country at Cropredy.

He said: “It’s crazy to be still doing this after 51 years but certainly no one forced me into it.

“It’s something I’m quietly proud of and don’t take it for granted.

“I don’t know what else I would do if I wasn’t in the van, going out playing music with my mates.

“Knowing four chords and being in a band was something everyone did in the 1960s but then they grew out of it and got proper jobs. I forgot to do that bit.

“Most things around this band happen in a very organic way.

“Cropredy started because two band members lived in the village and we went on after the fete.

“We ended up running the event, it outgrew the garden and it is now this remarkable event which sees 20,000 people turn up.”

Simon is adamant that Fairport has no time for nostalgia and always wants to present long-time favourites alongside new music.

There are already plans to enter the studio again towards the end of this year.

He said: “The day we become our own tribute act is the day I’m off.

“It’s good to take stock and reflect but it’s also about us now and the music we write.

“Chris Leslie is a brilliant songwriter always coming up with ideas and people send us songs too.”

Fairport Convention play The Old Courts on Tuesday, May 15. Find out more at www.theoldcourts.com.