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"A Gathering Of Friends..."

Run by Fairport Convention since 1976, this August 7-9 the Cropredy Convention has gone prog. Get set for our guide to the UK’s friendliest festival…

Ric Sanders: Fairport Convention’s self-confessed chief prog fan reveals all about the jewel in Oxfordshire’s events crown.

Ric Sanders

Fairport Convention’s self-confessed chief prog fan reveals all about the jewel in Oxfordshire’s events crown.

With a line-up including Steve Hackett, The Australian Pink Floyd and Marillion, Cropredy is more prog than ever this year. How do you feel about that? 

“I love that it’s more proggy! I’ve never met Steve Hackett before but I’ve always liked Genesis and adore Peter Gabriel. The Australian Pink Floyd should be great – it may jog some memories of when I saw Floyd on my 33rd birthday in the US, while on tour with Jethro Tull. I’d had a little drink so it’s a bit of a blur. They had a big wheel. A bed flew over the audience. 

“We went up and said hi to Dave Gilmour. Fairport were playing a 20,000 ice hockey stadium. Floyd were in a king dome of 100,000 people. I’d like to hear any The Dark Side Of The Moon and Comfortably Numb please! 

“I would also call Chas & Dave prog! [laughs] They’re pioneers and phenomenal musicians. Then there’s Marillion, which will be wonderful. Drummer Ian Mosley is an old friend of mine from years ago when we used to play with Gordon Giltrap. It’ll be great to catch up.” 

Why do you think Cropredy is so special?

“It didn’t try to go in huge – it’s gathered momentum over the years. Now there’s the wonderful audience of 20,000 and it’s very special. We don’t have an exclusive VIP backstage bar, so whether it’s Robert Plant, Slash, anyone, they go to the main bar for our ‘meeting of friends’. It’s a great vibe, and we call it the UK’s friendliest festival because we genuinely think it is.”

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Fairport Convention will play their opening acoustic set on Thursday afternoon and close the festival on Saturday night. They release an as-yet untitled new album in January 2015. For more information, see www.fairportconvention.com.

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With a line-up including Steve Hackett, The Australian Pink Floyd and Marillion, Cropredy is more prog than ever this year. How do you feel about that? 

“I love that it’s more proggy! I’ve never met Steve Hackett before but I’ve always liked Genesis and adore Peter Gabriel. The Australian Pink Floyd should be great – it may jog some memories of when I saw Floyd on my 33rd birthday in the US, while on tour with Jethro Tull. I’d had a little drink so it’s a bit of a blur. They had a big wheel. A bed flew over the audience. 

“We went up and said hi to Dave Gilmour. Fairport were playing a 20,000 ice hockey stadium. Floyd were in a king dome of 100,000 people. I’d like to hear any The Dark Side Of The Moon and Comfortably Numb please! 

“I would also call Chas & Dave prog! [laughs] They’re pioneers and phenomenal musicians. Then there’s Marillion, which will be wonderful. Drummer Ian Mosley is an old friend of mine from years ago when we used to play with Gordon Giltrap. It’ll be great to catch up.” 

Why do you think Cropredy is so special?

“It didn’t try to go in huge – it’s gathered momentum over the years. Now there’s the wonderful audience of 20,000 and it’s very special. We don’t have an exclusive VIP backstage bar, so whether it’s Robert Plant, Slash, anyone, they go to the main bar for our ‘meeting of friends’. It’s a great vibe, and we call it the UK’s friendliest festival because we genuinely think it is.”

Fairport Convention will play their opening acoustic set on Thursday afternoon and close the festival on Saturday night. They release an as-yet untitled new album in January 2015. For more information, see www.fairportconvention.com.

Steve Hackett

The Genesis Revisited maestro opens his musical box on Thursday night.

Tell us how you ended up at Cropredy.

“I met Dave Pegg at a great festival in Brittany. We chatted after our show and I’m pleased that it worked out – many words are bandied about backstage but they actually followed it up.”

Are you fans of Fairport Convention?

“I am. In the early days, quite a few of their albums were part of my collection, and I also like Richard Thompson as someone who can play both acoustic and electric. He was doing that before me – there aren’t many of us out there. 

“I also like people who have respect for early music and love it. Do you listen to anything from the 1500s? In the early 70s some people did, and players like Fairport and John Renbourn are very much an early influence for my playing. A track I love is Fotheringay, done with Sandy Denny. I thought that was just glorious and a perfect arrangement. It’s got storytelling, it’s very melancholic, songs of love and death… right up my street!” 

You’ll be performing as Genesis Extended – what’s that?

“It’s a pure marketing ploy! [Laughs] We started out doing Revisited last year and there was such a call for it, I was asked if I’d do it for another year and add more from the Genesis catalogue. Revisited couldn’t have gone better for an idea that was pretty bloody ambitious. I wasn’t going to be recreating these things like a tribute band would, so no bat wings or Slipperman costume. I was making the music the star of the show. I do really love it and so do the audience.”

What will be in the Extended set?

“Normally if I’m at a festival I choose to play music that’s not acoustic – acoustic guitars sound awful from a big stage and something that should be a Tinkerbell will come across like a Sherman tank. As it’s Cropredy, I might make an exception – if there are acoustic players around I’ll get the acoustic box out. As for songs, I’m adding The Knife – I really enjoy that. There’ll also be Squonk, Lilywhite Lilith and The Fountain Of Salmacis. People really respond to that one. They respond to everything – it’s 100 years old and as popular as Land Of Hope And Glory!”

Will there be any more additions to your band’s line-up?

“We’ve got two tall blonds in the band again – Nick Beggs and Nad Sylvan. And it’s entirely possible that Amanda [Lehmann] may be along if she’s free on the day.”

And the production?

“There won’t be the big screens or light show. If the sun is shining, that big spotlight in the sky is enough. I saw the Stones, Pink Floyd, Blind Faith at shows in Hyde Park when I was young – there was no light show, just the sunny day. Did I say the music was the star of the show? That’s rubbish. It’s the weather.”

If you get to stay the whole weekend, you may end up at the Cropredy cricket match on Sunday.

“That’s interesting – they stop the music and have a cricket match instead. It’s all very British. I’m interested in flower arranging on the radio myself… but cricket on the green, eh? And much ale will be consumed by all! Will anyone be sober enough to catch the ball? In that case I’ll be arriving on horseback and doing a bit of impromptu showjumping. Not.”

Genesis Revisited Live At The Royal Albert Hall is out now on CD/DVD and Blu-ray. For more information, see www.hackettsongs.com. 

Steve Hackett

The Genesis Revisited maestro opens his musical box on Thursday night.

Tell us how you ended up at Cropredy.

“I met Dave Pegg at a great festival in Brittany. We chatted after our show and I’m pleased that it worked out – many words are bandied about backstage but they actually followed it up.”

Are you fans of Fairport Convention?

“I am. In the early days, quite a few of their albums were part of my collection, and I also like Richard Thompson as someone who can play both acoustic and electric. He was doing that before me – there aren’t many of us out there. 

“I also like people who have respect for early music and love it. Do you listen to anything from the 1500s? In the early 70s some people did, and players like Fairport and John Renbourn are very much an early influence for my playing. A track I love is Fotheringay, done with Sandy Denny. I thought that was just glorious and a perfect arrangement. It’s got storytelling, it’s very melancholic, songs of love and death… right up my street!” 

You’ll be performing as Genesis Extended – what’s that?

“It’s a pure marketing ploy! [Laughs] We started out doing Revisited last year and there was such a call for it, I was asked if I’d do it for another year and add more from the Genesis catalogue. Revisited couldn’t have gone better for an idea that was pretty bloody ambitious. I wasn’t going to be recreating these things like a tribute band would, so no bat wings or Slipperman costume. I was making the music the star of the show. I do really love it and so do the audience.”

What will be in the Extended set?

“Normally if I’m at a festival I choose to play music that’s not acoustic – acoustic guitars sound awful from a big stage and something that should be a Tinkerbell will come across like a Sherman tank. As it’s Cropredy, I might make an exception – if there are acoustic players around I’ll get the acoustic box out. As for songs, I’m adding The Knife – I really enjoy that. There’ll also be Squonk, Lilywhite Lilith and The Fountain Of Salmacis. People really respond to that one. They respond to everything – it’s 100 years old and as popular as Land Of Hope And Glory!”

Will there be any more additions to your band’s line-up?

“We’ve got two tall blonds in the band again – Nick Beggs and Nad Sylvan. And it’s entirely possible that Amanda [Lehmann] may be along if she’s free on the day.”

And the production?

“There won’t be the big screens or light show. If the sun is shining, that big spotlight in the sky is enough. I saw the Stones, Pink Floyd, Blind Faith at shows in Hyde Park when I was young – there was no light show, just the sunny day. Did I say the music was the star of the show? That’s rubbish. It’s the weather.”

If you get to stay the whole weekend, you may end up at the Cropredy cricket match on Sunday.

“That’s interesting – they stop the music and have a cricket match instead. It’s all very British. I’m interested in flower arranging on the radio myself… but cricket on the green, eh? And much ale will be consumed by all! Will anyone be sober enough to catch the ball? In that case I’ll be arriving on horseback and doing a bit of impromptu showjumping. Not.”

Genesis Revisited Live At The Royal Albert Hall is out now on CD/DVD and Blu-ray. For more information, see www.hackettsongs.com. 

Jason Sawford – The Australian Pink Floyd Show

The only Floyd tribute to have David Gilmour’s personal seal of approval take on Friday night’s headline slot.

Have you ever been to Cropredy before? “This is our first time. When it came up, we had to say yes. And it’s part of our current Set The Controls tour, where the idea has been to play what the audience request.” 

Floyd’s repertoire is vast. What are your favourite songs to play? “There’s so much great material but there’s a classic period which is Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here, and we like to play that the most. “We have a very varied setlist. My favourite songs are from Animals. That’s a great album, and I enjoy playing Pigs – that’s in our current setlist.”  

My personal favourite is One Of These Days. “Oh yeah, we really like playing that song – that’s when our big inflatable kangaroo comes onstage!” You can get tickets for the 2015 tour, Welcome To The Machine, from www.aussiefloyd.com.

Jason Sawford – The Australian Pink Floyd Show

The only Floyd tribute to have David Gilmour’s personal seal of approval take on Friday night’s headline slot.

Have you ever been to Cropredy before?

“This is our first time. When it came up, we had to say yes. And it’s part of our current Set The Controls tour, where the idea has been to play what the audience request.”

Floyd’s repertoire is vast. What are your favourite songs to play?

“There’s so much great material but there’s a classic period which is Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here, and we like to play that the most.

“We have a very varied setlist. My favourite songs are from Animals. That’s a great album, and I enjoy playing Pigs – that’s in our current setlist.” 

My personal favourite is One Of These Days.

“Oh yeah, we really like playing that song – that’s when our big inflatable kangaroo comes onstage!”

You can get tickets for the 2015 tour, Welcome To The Machine, from www.aussiefloyd.com.

Steve Hogarth

Market square heroes Marillion play to a star-studded field on Saturday night

This is your first appearance at Cropredy. How did it come about?

”I live in a little village not far from there, and there’s a chap called Dickie Beaumont who I occasionally bump into in the pub. He’s a roadie from the Old Days – he once plugged Jimi Hendrix in. We got talking and it turns out he works for Fairport during the festival. I said, ‘We’ve never done that,’ and he said, ‘Oh, you should.’ He fixed up a meeting and that was that.”

Have you visited Cropredy before?

“I went along for a day last year to check it out because I’d never been and it was lovely and sunny. Bob Harris was there, I think Frank Skinner too, and then Jasper Carrott got up and did something impromptu onstage and he wasn’t even on the bill!”

It’s a very friendly place, and surprisingly star-studded.

“You hear stories about Robert Plant and Steve Winwood floating around. Last year I spoke to Martin Barre backstage. I suppressed the urge to kneel down and do the ‘we are not worthy’ bit. Living legends tootle by with a fishy chair or a ukulele under their arm. Fairport Convention are very well connected from all their work over the years.” 

Dave Pegg describes the festival as a gathering of friends. 

“Maybe people stop being ‘fans’ – that seems more applicable to people of a certain age – and become enthusiasts. There’s something more spiritually connected about a fanbase as time goes by – they’re not just a humongous crowd of overexcited people. Cropredy is the only festival I’ve been to that has this special feeling. People were three years old, or 83, cheek by jowl, and everyone had a smile on their face. The whole vibration was very pastoral.”

What will be on the Marillion setlist?

“We’ll err on the side of things singles, concentrate on the latest record, and play what we feel we’d most like to play on the night. We’re aware it’s traditionally a folk festival so we’ll look at that side and do our folkier things like Easter, Circular Ride and Man Of A Thousand Faces.” 

Are you a fan of Fairport Convention?

“I’ve a massive respect for them. It’s their influence – hearing people like Nina Simone cover Who Knows Where The Time Goes and watching a programme on The Troubadour club in LA on TV the other night, seeing them in among Carole King, James Taylor and so on. They’ve really been there.” 

During their Saturday night headline slot, Fairport normally have some guests onstage from throughout the weekend. Will you be joining them?

“I sincerely hope so – I’d love to contribute. It would be a great end to a wonderful weekend – and it all came from a chat in the pub.”

The two-CD, two-DVD and Blu-ray live release A Sunday Night Above The Rain is out now. See www.marillion.com for more information. 

Steve Hogarth

Market square heroes Marillion play to a star-studded field on Saturday night.

This is your first appearance at Cropredy. How did it come about?

”I live in a little village not far from there, and there’s a chap called Dickie Beaumont who I occasionally bump into in the pub. He’s a roadie from the Old Days – he once plugged Jimi Hendrix in. We got talking and it turns out he works for Fairport during the festival. I said, ‘We’ve never done that,’ and he said, ‘Oh, you should.’ He fixed up a meeting and that was that.”

Have you visited Cropredy before?

“I went along for a day last year to check it out because I’d never been and it was lovely and sunny. Bob Harris was there, I think Frank Skinner too, and then Jasper Carrott got up and did something impromptu onstage and he wasn’t even on the bill!”

It’s a very friendly place, and surprisingly star-studded.

“You hear stories about Robert Plant and Steve Winwood floating around. Last year I spoke to Martin Barre backstage. I suppressed the urge to kneel down and do the ‘we are not worthy’ bit. Living legends tootle by with a fishy chair or a ukulele under their arm. Fairport Convention are very well connected from all their work over the years.” 

Dave Pegg describes the festival as a gathering of friends. 

“Maybe people stop being ‘fans’ – that seems more applicable to people of a certain age – and become enthusiasts. There’s something more spiritually connected about a fanbase as time goes by – they’re not just a humongous crowd of overexcited people. Cropredy is the only festival I’ve been to that has this special feeling. People were three years old, or 83, cheek by jowl, and everyone had a smile on their face. The whole vibration was very pastoral.”

What will be on the Marillion setlist?

“We’ll err on the side of things singles, concentrate on the latest record, and play what we feel we’d most like to play on the night. We’re aware it’s traditionally a folk festival so we’ll look at that side and do our folkier things like Easter, Circular Ride and Man Of A Thousand Faces.” 

Are you a fan of Fairport Convention?

“I’ve a massive respect for them. It’s their influence – hearing people like Nina Simone cover Who Knows Where The Time Goes and watching a programme on The Troubadour club in LA on TV the other night, seeing them in among Carole King, James Taylor and so on. They’ve really been there.” 

During their Saturday night headline slot, Fairport normally have some guests onstage from throughout the weekend. Will you be joining them?

“I sincerely hope so – I’d love to contribute. It would be a great end to a wonderful weekend – and it all came from a chat in the pub.”

The two-CD, two-DVD and Blu-ray live release A Sunday Night Above The Rain is out now. See www.marillion.com for more information. 

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