Artist Blog | Chris Leslie of Fairport Convention blogs the first week of their UK tour

Chris Leslie Fairport ConventionWe’re jolly pleased to be playing host to the Fairport Convention 2013 Tour Blog, charting their journey around the fair isles of Great Britain.  We’ll be publishing weekly blogs from different members of the band, taking in the sites and sounds of the preceding week and looking forward to the next stage of the journey.

The first instalment of Fairport Convention’s tour blog is brought to you by lead vocalist Chris Leslie, who talks about the perils of choosing a set list from the band’s woolly mammoth of a back-catalogue, rehearsals, encountering Simon Cowell, and the first few nights of their UK tour.

Chris Leslie writes:

Our Winter Tour this year takes us around the country to 27 venues in 38 days.

The first job for me was to put a set list together for the rest of the band to look at and add any changes they might want to make. This is an interesting process as Fairport always has a current album and material, but there is also a wealth of music from across the band’s forty-five year history to choose from. Once we have agreed on a set, this gives us something to consider before coming together to rehearse.

Rehearsals take place at Ric’s house. He has a wooden building in his garden, which is perfect. We give ourselves a day’s rehearsal to go through the stuff from the set list. The following day we are off on the road.

Our first concert is at The Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury. We all travel together in a long base touring van with comfy pilot seats. A comfortable seat is very important! We have a wonderful driver and tour manager – Mick Peters who not only gets us safely around the country, but also makes sure we are on stage on time, and he also pre-plans technical details with all the venues in advance.

We have a great first night and the new set list seems to work well. Our soundman John Gale has everything up and running so well, the room sounds great. We always go out into the foyer after shows to say hi to people and sign any CDs and programmes.  On stage the gear is already being broken down to be loaded back into the truck. Our fab lorry driver “Buff” will drive through the night and will arrive at the next venue, park up, and take a well earned sleep.

The second night we are in Tunbridge Wells at the Assembly Hall. Very heavy traffic on the M25 means we get there a little late, but still plenty of time to do a sound check. I head out before the show in search of something to eat, there’s not much time before we are on stage.  Another good show – a good sounding room – great to sing in. I meet up with old friends from my Violin Making School days, so good to see them.

Up to New Brighton for day three, chance to take in some sea air!  A new venue for us, and another good night – things seem to be on a roll.

Day four sees us in Salford Quays at the Lowry (via a lovely lunch stop – I try to eat well on the road whenever I get the opportunity). We arrive at the gig and it is full of trucks and security people. “Britain’s Got Talent” is on in the larger theatre next to ours. Another good show for us, I’m really enjoying the vibe on stage, this is what playing music is all about! After the concert I go out to our van past a group of photographers awaiting the exit of Simon Cowell into his Rolls Royce. When he comes out there is a flurry of activity and camera flashes – the strange world of celebrity…..  We head off homewards for a day off, very happy that the tour is well and truly up and running.

There are still tickets for some Fairport Convention dates, details of which are below:

7 Feb, Leicester, De Montfort Hall, 0116 233 3111 
8 Feb, Leamington Spa, The Royal Spa Centre, 0845 218 3540 
9 Feb, Brighton, St Georges Church, 08444 771 000
10 Feb, Yeovil, The Octagon Theatre, 01935 422884 
14 Feb, Weston-Super-Mare, Playhouse Theatre, 01934 645544 
15 Feb, Farnham, The Maltings, 01252 745444 
16 Feb, Norwich, Open, 01603 763111 
17 Feb, Colchester, The Arts Centre, 01206 500900 
19 Feb, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, The Maltings, 01298 330999 
20 Feb, Leeds, City Varieties, 0113 243 0808 
21 Feb, Burnley, The Mechanics, 01282 664400
22 Feb, Milton Keynes, The Stables, 01908 280800 
23 Feb, St Albans, The Alban Arena, 01727 844488 
26 Feb, The Sage, Gateshead, 0191 443 4661 
27 Feb, Chesterfield, The WInding Wheel, 01246 345334 
28 Feb, Kendal, Brewery Arts Centre, 01539 725133 
1 Mar, Bury St Edmunds, The Apex Theatre, 01284 758000 
2 Mar, Clacton, West Cliff Theatre, 01255 474000 
3.Mar, Cardiff, St David’s Hall, 02920 878444
6 Mar, Shrewsbury, Theatre Severn, 01743 281281 
7 Mar, Bridport, The Electric Palace, 01308 424901 
8 Mar, Exeter, The Corn Exchange, 01392 665938 
9 Mar, London, The Union Chapel, 0207 226 1686

Read Simon Nicol’s blog of week two of the tour here.

Read Gerry Conway’s blog of week three here.

Read Ric Sanders’ blog of week four here.



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