Fairport Convention

35th Anniversary Concert [Video]

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AllMusic Review by

David Robinson, drummer for the Cars, once called the group ABBA true "craftsmen," and his words ring appropriate for Fairport Convention on this lovely 35th Anniversary DVD. There are 19 songs covered on 18 tracks exquisitely captured by the very dependable Dave Meehan of Secret Films on February 23, 2003 at The Anvil Theatre in Basingstoke, England. This is the Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg, Ric Sanders, Chris Leslie and Gerry Conway version of the group with appearances by Anna Ryder and Vikki Clayton. The minstrels are in the gallery, as Ian Anderson might say, and this version of Fairport Convention takes Jethro Tull's more esoteric aspects and plays them for all they are worth. It's a truly inviting journey that captivates via the collective mastery of the string, percussive and vocal instruments. A nine-page biography written by Ian Burgess is included on the DVD as a bonus, and with the merry-go-round of musicians who have been in this venerable group, it is a much needed score card. Some of that information is also played over the ending credits. With three additional vocalists lending and blending harmonies to "Meet on the Ledge," veteran Simon Nicol has a heavy eight-piece unit backing him on this anthemic closer. The DVD doesn't give much in the way of bonus material, though the tracks are isolated if one chooses to randomly view a song. There's also a 32-minute interview with "Peggy," Simon, Chris and interviewer Martin "Jet Martin" Celmins, which is interesting though the audio quality is low and not reflective of the pristine sound of the concert. Fairport Convention have more than a few videotapes and DVDs available and given how long they've pursued their craft more will no doubt surface. This 35th Anniversary Concert is very special and a good place for those unfamiliar with the group to see and hear what they project in all its glory.

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