An Evening of Brilliant Music, Humour and Poignancy in Spalding.
On the Saturday evening of May 11, ‘folk rock’ band Fairport Convention once more graced the stage at Spalding’s Civic Centre.
Although the auditorium was not quite full, there was a good, convivial atmosphere, helped by the band members’ laid back approach, great sense of humour and also by the timeless quality of the music aided by a back catalogue of over fifty years, even though the subject matter of these songs is often anything but genteel.
Take the song ‘Matty Groves’, described by founder member Simon Nicol as having two chords and nineteen verses. The song itself is a traditional, lascivious and violent tale, originally adapted for Fairport’s landmark album, ‘Liege and Lief’ in 1969, and is delivered with a rocky, cutting edge, one of the best examples of ‘folk rock’ in my opinion.
Cutting Edge Rhythm Section
Throughout the performance, that cutting edge was amply provided by the deft skills of the highly experienced rhythm section, namely Gerry Conway on percussion and Dave Pegg, the latter’s dexterous familiarity with all of the neck of his bass guitar being a wonder to behold, as was the light hearted attitude he exuded. I have seldom seen a more lyrical example of great bass playing.
Not to be outdone, however, Gerry gave a stunning, virtuoso percussive performance which combined his conventional, rather minimal electronic set with what I understand to be a traditional Peruvian drum called a Cajon (Spanish for box) on which he actually sat all night. Simply remarkable.
And the evening was not all about the band’s older back catalogue either. For example, there were lovely performances of songs written more recently by multi-instrumentalist Chris Leslie, whose easy transition from fiddle to mandolin to guitar to tin whistle… was amazing.
Conversely, yet equally impressive, was the fiddle-dedicated Ric Sanders, whose unconventional, at times jazz influenced, reverb infused playing style, perfectly complemented the rest of the band.
What is more, there were the fantastic vocal harmonies too, adding to the overall richness and quality of the sound.
Leader of the Band
However, the undoubted leader of the band is founder member Simon Nicol, whose precise, often understated guitar playing could not be overlooked, especially by amateur guitarists like myself who appreciate exactly how well he does it.
Furthermore it was Simon who provided the most poignant parts of the evening. The band’s rendition of Sandy Denny’s ‘Fotheringay’ was a particular highlight, sung with deep feeling by Simon, the story of Mary Queen of Scots final hours in 1587.
Equally moving and with some local interest too, was Ralph McTell’s beautiful song ‘The Hiring Fair’. Simon had clearly seen the statue ‘The Hiring’ recently erected in Hall Place in the town centre, giving a precis of how hiring fairs used to work throughout the country.
And so to the encore, which had to be the anthemic ‘Meet on the Ledge’, one of the band’s best known songs. It’s exactly fifty years since the tragic road accident which took the life of drummer Martin Lamble and Jeannie Franklyn, who was Richard Thompson’s girlfriend.
In the aftermath of the tragedy the band nearly split up. Thankfully for us and to continually honour those who died, they decided to carry on, though it was clear that the anniversary of the event was leaving its mark on what was a very enjoyable evening.
Finally, there is the Cropredy Convention which takes part every year in August over three days. If you missed them this year on their spring tour, why not try to catch them at Cropredy? There are many other bands and musicians to see and a good time will be had by all, that’s for sure.
It has often mystified me how the second sign of the zodiac, that particular 30 degree division of the ecliptic, got associated with the bull – Latin name Taurus. I’ve read theories but I guess the real truth is lost to time somewhere in ancient Mesopotamia and Greece.
Taurus in pure astrological terms is the fixed earth sign. Earth is pretty fixed as it is but add the ‘fixed’ condition to it as well..? From this it gets its traits of solidity and dependability. OK, a bull is solid – but is it dependable?
Taurus is ruled by Venus, some say the more negative side of the lesser benefic planet. From this Taurus is also associated with beauty, but perhaps a more particularly sensuous, earthy type of good looking things. In the human anatomy the sign is said to rule the neck, that natives may have weak spot in this part of the body, especially if the Sun or planet in the sign is ‘afflicted’ by negative aspects.
The sign is also associated to the second house in birth charts, which is all to do with our personal security and money, basically the Taurean traits applied our personal world. In mundane terms too, Taurus rules money, finance and securities. Aries is said to plough the first furrow, it initiates. Taurus is all about consolidation, big time.
However, last year the ‘outer planet’ Uranus entered Taurus for the first time since the early 1940s, which ended a tenure spanning back to 1934. Naturally, you don’t have to be a brilliant student of history to know what was happening in the world then.
But let’s not be alarmist. What does it all mean? Taurus is money, Uranus breaks up. It could be that by 2026 when this shaker-upper of a ‘planet’ leaves Taurus, our views on money, what it is, how we use it – might be radically different from what they are now. We should also remember that Pluto remains in Capricorn until 2023. Capricorn is the cardinal earth sign and is politics, the establishment, big business. This combination may represent a double whammy for the way things are at present.
My prediction (I know many would say that it’s an easy prediction to make) is that the world of 2019 compared to 2026 will have radically changed. We might see digital currencies running the world by then, which would entail along with it drastic changes in lifestyle.
And there’s no reason why it shouldn’t actually change for the better, for once. That goes for you too, Taurus.