Monday, August 14, 2017

Cropredy 2017 Review: Day 1

This was my second visit to the legendary Cropredy festival, and I'm running the serious risk of being labelled a folkie. My only answer to that is that the line-up of 2016 and 2017 have been much more diverse than the reputation might suggest. As we approached and saw people walking through the village, we recalled my friend Bob's comment last year that "some of them don't even try to look like muggles." We were again lucky enough to have Bob and Ann's home to stay in and commute, as they live nearby, and are brilliant hosts.

It's a gentler festival - one stage, everyone is friendly (and quite a few - but not all - are a bit older). The arena field slopes gently down, and most people bring chairs, cold boxes of drink and food and we get to know each other between sets. I even sat near someone who I knew from over 20 years ago when I was his curate!

Fairport always start and finish the gig - playing an acoustic set at the beginning of the programme. This was the current line-up, all of whom are great musicians and honour the Fairport sound. The first day was quite a mixed bag in itself. Feast of Fiddles includes members of Fairport, Steeleye Span, Show of Hands and more. All great musicians and an enjoyable set, but perhaps not my top pick for genre.

Dogs are also welcome. These two were near us - complete with trolley

Phil Beer had a busy afternoon, as he reappeared alongside Steve Knightley and Miranda Sykes with Show of Hands. For me, this was a great set - superb musicianship, with challenging songs that have a conscience. Catch them on their tour of cathedrals this autumn.

I didn't know what to expect of the Trevor Horn Band. Lol Creme from 10cc had joined him, alongside some great younger musicians and vocalists. We were treated to a live set of songs that he had produced or been involved with performing, along with a couple of 10cc hits. We had the full range - Kiss From A Rose, Video Killed the Radio Star, 3 Frankie Goes to Hollywood hits, Cry, Owner of a Lonely Heart (vocals: Matt Cardle) and he even managed to find someone to sing Slave to the Rhythm. Plus we got Rubber Bullets and I'm Not in Love. The production of the original records was really important in most cases, and yet the band managed tight, complex arrangements without the need of backing tracks. Probably the set of the day.

Following that was always going to be a tough one, and the lot fell to the Divine Comedy. Somewhere I have a CD of Fin de Si├Ęcle, featuring the hit single National Express. However, I have to confess we slipped away after a few songs - at that stage in the day I think we needed something more engaging. In fact if the order had been reversed, I think Trevor Horn would have held the audience much better. But it was a good day, and we got a slightly earlier night than we expected.


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