Fairport Convention

Gala Theatre, Durham

8 February 2018

You always know where you are with Fairport Convention. After so many years, the format of the concerts are comfortably predictable. First a "hello" and a personal introduction for the hand-picked support act (this year, Winter Wilson, a fantastic folk duo who have the (justified) confidence to come to Durham and sing songs about the miners' strike). Then they join the support act for a song, then stay on stage for their own set of songs that you know you'll love whether you've heard them every year or are hearing for the first time. Even in their 51st year, they will still play brand new songs, as well as five decades' worth of old favourites.

The playing will be flawless, the banter with the audience will be funny, there will be anecdotes about times past and people we've lost, there will be a stand-up comedy routine from Ric Sanders, Chris Leslie will play at least six different instruments, another one of them will admit he's now old enough for a bus pass, Dave Pegg might sit down to play because he's still waiting for his hip replacement. Simon Nichol might do the line about Ikea curtains in Matty Groves. No surprises, just beautiful music by a bunch of guys the whole audience loves. No highlights, because it's all good. You're not just sitting waiting for Who Knows Where the Time Goes or Matty Groves, because it's all good, even the songs you've never met before. It's all so warm and friendly and uplifting.

So, pretty much the best concert I've ever seen.