Fairport Convention has been one of the most consistent brand names in Britain for decades. Most of the faces have changed—many have come and gone, including the quasi-legendary Richard Thompson and the late Sandy Denny. The holdouts (guitarist/vocalist Simon Nicol is the last remaining founder; bassist/mandolinist Dave Pegg joined in 1970, violinist Ric Sanders in 1985, while the other current members are acoustic stringsman/singer Chris Leslie and drummer Gerry Conway) have grown some wrinkles, but the music has changed little through the years. Fairport long ago turned down the volume to reconnect more fully with the folk half of their iconic folk-rock, but their stylistic evolution follows a relatively straight line from 1967 to the present.
Veteran Conventioneers will know what to expect from this live DVD, shot at the Anvil Theatre in Basingstoke, England in February 2002. Fairport never delivers a less than satisfying performance, and this low-key, homey set is no exception. Thompson-era material (“Meet On The Ledge”), traditional tunes and newer compositions complement one another well, and the band of seasoned pros handles all of it with flair. Interviews fill up the extra space.
Sandy Denny Under Review is billed as an “independent critical analysis,” and that’s pretty much the size of it: an album-by-album stroll through the much-loved vocalist’s all-too-brief career (Denny died at age 31 in 1978 after falling down a flight of stairs). With commentary from musicians, critics and the like, accompanied mostly by still photos and too few live clips, this one’s for the already converted.