Legendary band Fairport Convention to rock the Ribble Valley

FAIRPORT Convention’s founding father Simon Nicol was in an ebullient mood, undiminished by 50 years on the non-stop rock and roll express.
Fairport Convention is visiting Clitheroe on May 16. (s)Fairport Convention is visiting Clitheroe on May 16. (s)
Fairport Convention is visiting Clitheroe on May 16. (s)

Fairport Convention married folk tradition with a hard-edged rock streak that earned them the nickname, ‘The British Jefferson Airplane’ and a Lifetime Achievement Award for

their contribution to music.

“We never went out of fashion because Fairport Convention were never in fashion,” joked Nicol, who visits Clitheroe with the veteran rockers on May 16.

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And while their seminal albums, Unhalfbricking and Liege and Leaf, voted the most influential folk album of all time by BBC Radio 2 listeners, Nicol refuses to look back through the time tunnel with rosy retrospection.

“It was definitely a blessing to have avoided the commercial sunshine,” he added.

“But nobody gets out of this band alive.

“Once you’re in the Fairport family then you are always part of it.

“You may emigrate, forget to send a birthday card, but it’s always going to be your home and I think that’s true of everyone, even if they were in the band only briefly.

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“It’s nice to remember them, but the band is about today and tomorrow, and not about yesterday.

“Though yesterday is great to have.”

Today’s incarnation contains Nicol as its sole original member, who apart from a short sabbatical in the 1970s, has been an ever-present since their conception in 1967.

“Music is a fly-by-night business and all the people I knew when I was young, and everybody was in a band then, are all retired and playing golf.

“They might renew their golf memberships once a year, but I’m still getting in a clapped-out van, lugging our gear from Brighton to Clitheroe and back.

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“Fairport Convention has become this thing, and I’ve managed to stay ahead of the curve and make a living.”

Their first visit to the Ribble Valley will feature a mix of long- established Fairport favourites and the new material from their most recent offering 50:50 celebrating their Golden


“It is not about trotting out the old hits because we had no hits,” he says.

“What I do find remarkable, though, is that young people come to our shows, some discovering our music for the first time and they have their own angle on the band.

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“I feel very privileged that they do want to come and see us.

“I’m 68, and I like to think I’m better at my job now than I was at 18.

“If I was a carpenter or a brain surgeon, I’d have the same expectations of myself.”

Fairport Convention, Clitheroe Grand Theatre, May 16. 01200 421599, www.thegrandvenue.co.uk

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