Arts and Culture

Interview with Fairport Convention’s Simon Nicol as the legendary folk band comes to Manchester

Legendary folk band Fairport Convention are currently on tour, and will perform at the Royal Northern College of Music later this month.

For this tour the band are joined by special guest Dave Mattacks, who joined on drums in 1969 and was in the band on and off until 1997.

Guitarist and singer Simon Nicol, the last founding member still in the band, is enjoying being back on the road again.

He said: “It’s been very pleasing, the first week. Physically it’s quite hard because there’s no easing into it. You have your rehearsals and so forth but the actual business of the daily routine and the travelling, there’s no easy start.

“But it’s always enjoyable and the band has always existed to play gigs: that’s been our ethos for the last 50 years. It is about the places that you go and the people that you meet, and the relationships that you rekindle.”

Simon also paid tribute to the band’s huge following among folk fans, after Saturday’s show in Southampton was a sell-out.

“There are some people who have been with the band since they were going to college in the 60s. I don’t know what it is, but we have managed to create a degree of loyalty among our public.

“Whatever age they discover the band, we seem to have been able to maintain a good relationship with them. It’s very flattering.

“I think that’s because the history of the band is there if they want it but we don’t stick it down their throats.

“We’re not a tribute act to ourselves, that’s the important thing.

“We’re not going out and pushing the old hits.

“We can call on that material if we want to, and there are some songs that are essential to our performance which are that age, and would be really missed if they weren’t a part of the show, but when we perform them, we don’t pretend that we’re the age we are when they were first recorded, and we’re not mimicking the sound that was natural to us in those days.

“We’ve adapted and grown with those songs.

 “It’s like going up a flight of stairs in your 70s – you go up that same flight of stairs and it’s the same you, but you’re going up it in a different way than when you were 20!”

Simon and the band are also looking forward to their annual Cropredy Convention festival in August.

This year they will be joined in the Oxfordshire village by Gilbert O’Sullivan, 10CC and Strawbs, among others.

“It’s the absolute highlight of everyone’s year. It’s not just the lynchpin of the year, but everything is driven towards that. The festival is absolutely central to life for the band.

“Cropredy is the sort of festival that people come to once, because people drag them along, or there’s someone they can’t see anywhere else, and they come along and just instantly get it.

“It has this wonderful feeling of fellowship and family that you can’t get anywhere else.”

Tickets for their Manchester show on February 25 can be found here.

More information about the band and the Cropredy Convention can be found here.

Main image: Simon Nicol at Cropredy 2017 by Kirstie Handley

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