Review; Cromer Folk on the Pier final day

Fairport Convention who headlined the finale of the Folk on teh Pier weekend at Cromer Pier

Fairport Convention who headlined the finale of the Folk on teh Pier weekend at Cromer Pier - Credit: Archant

Fairport Convention, fathers of English folk-rock since the late 1960s, have long links with Cromer Pier.

It was their concert in the Pavilion Theatre 16 years ago which led to the start of the annual Folk on the Pier festival – which has just celebrated its 15th year.

Fairport, and many of its associated folk-rock spin-off bands, have thrilled fans in Cromer many times over the past decade and a half.

This year however festival director Scott Butler came up with the dream bill for Fairport's loyal fans – a full festival day yesterday (Sunday) of Fairport and its offshoots.

Multi-talented Chris Leslie (fiddle, mandolin) kicked things off with an entertaining set including traditional tunes and solo versions of some of the songs he has written for Fairport in recent years.

Fiddler Ric Sanders, accompanied by Vo Fletcher and Mike Gregory, echoed his early days with Soft Machine and Second Vision with some jazzy-folk numbers, and a surprise version of The Beatles' Dr Robert.

Fairport bassist Dave Pegg and drummer Gerry Conway revived the band's early covers of Bob Dylan material – joining fellow members of the Dylan Project for a hard rocking set which closed Sunday afternoon.

Most Read

The five-piece, featuring the excellent Steve Gibbon on guitar and vocals, PJ Wtright on guitar and Phil Bond on keyboards, turned in some fine versions of 'big hits' Like A Rolling Stone, Don't Think Twice Its Alright and I Shall Be Released as well as the more obscure Down Along the Cove and Pledgin' My Time.

And there were even echoes of the late Roy Orbison as Gibbons led the band in an excellent encore of Handle with Care which Dylan contributed during his time with the Traveling Wilburys.

Christmas came early for the festival audience when Fairport guitarist-singer Simon Nicol joined fellow Fairport founding member Ashley Hutchings in the Albion Christmas Band who normally tour only in December.

With a Christmas tree and tinsel on stage the quartet presented a charming selection of secular and other songs and tunes associated with the festive season.

Nicol and Kellie While provided some fine vocals throughout with the traditional Bitter Withy and Joni Mitchell's River being highlights for me.

Simon Care on melodeon contributed some traditional Christmas, morris and mumming tunes and gave a hilarious demonstration of the Monkseaton Egg Dance.

Finally Fairport members regrouped for a closing concert set which, although perhaps a little ragged at times, kept their many loyal fans happy.

Early favourites such as Sir Patrick Spens, Fotheringay and Doctor of Physick were sure crowd pleasers along with more recent material including the traditional Happy the Man, Ralph McTell's Around the Wild Cape Horn and Chris Leslie's The Wood and the Wire.

As is usual the classic Who Knows Where The Time Goes and Meet On The Ledge written by early Fairport members Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson proved highlights – ending a unique festival day for all to remember.

Brian Gaudet