Fairport Convention

Gala Theatre, Durham

9 February 2016

The band has 49 years of history behind it, and what's amazing is how little they rely on their "classic" era from 40+ years ago the way some other bands do. The vast majority of the set is from relatively "modern" albums, and a big chunk of it from 2015's Myths and Heroes. And it works, because the songs are so strong. And because, despite the history that they unashamedly share with the audience, this isn't a band that needs to rely on nostalgic sing-alongs, it's a group of veteran musicians playing with a flawless virtuosity that just leaves you with a huge smile on your face as you watch it. And despite the "folk rock" label, they're more rock than folk, and play their two one-hour sets with an energy that might shame bands half their age.

For the nostalgia crowd there is Crazy Man Michael, Matty Groves, and an audience sing-along to the encore of Meet on the Ledge, but even these sound fresh and new in their live arrangements, and honestly many of the newer songs outshine them anyway.

And beyond the music, they tell stories and jokes with a relaxed, intimate manner that can only come with the secure knowledge that you've got an audience eating out of the palm of your hand. Almost everybody in the audience has seen them many times before (the band took a quick poll) and we all come back every year because we just know it's going to be a superb show.

Fairport come round on tour every year, and every year I go and see them. There are no real surprises at a Fairport gig: you always know what you're going to get, and you always know you're going to enjoy it. And what's more important than that?