The Archive

Best viewed at 800x 600 res.

February 28th 1986.
The Barn. 
Mount Gambier .

Set list taken from ABC broadcast of the show from the Dom Polski Centre.
Lark In The Morning. 
Walk Awhile. 
The Cat In The Mixer > 
The Gas Almost Works. 
Honour and Praise. 
Instrumental Medley 85. 
The Hiring Fair. 
Jams O'Donnell's Jigs. 
Sloth .
Dirty Linen. 
Close To The Wind. 
Matty Groves > 
The Rutland Reel > 
Sack the Juggler. 
E : Meet On The Ledge.

    I was stationed in Mt. Gambier in 1986 and thus missed the Adelaide show due to a malign combination of sundry work commitments and the tyranny of distance, however, I did have the consolation of attending this unexpected show in the Mount .Mount Gambier is a city of some 20,000 bods, situated near the Victorian border . Its a pleasant spot , nestled amongst a number of extinct volcanos , quite picturesque in its own way -but the number of Fairport fans it containeth is minuscule. About 30 odd to be precise, at least if we are judging by the turnout at The Barn and most of these were teachers from the local schools , not locals by any means .

       Australia is NOT the best place to Mount a nation-wide tour. There are huge distances between the capital cities once one gets past Melbourne . Its 800 + ks to Adelaide, 1500 odd k's from Adelaide to Perth ,a couple of thousand k's to Darwin and so on . There are not very many people situated in between. At one time it was policy for some minor league bands to try to make good use of the lengthy travelling time between the major cities by performing gigs in the country towns which stud the countryside every 300 or 400 Ks. Unfortunately for Fairport, ( but very fortunately for me ) the band adopted this strategy in 86. As a result the very sparsely attended gigs in Mt. Gambier , Murray Bridge and a few other places.

    Fairport were heading a double bill with the Bushwhackers as support. The Bushwhackers are something of an Aussie folk legend, been around since the Ark it seems and I guess most of the audience was there to see them. They certainly got a better response than Fairport, due mainly to song familiarity on the part of what passed for the "crowd " . Within a few numbers a portion of the audience were doing bush dances, egged on by the band's front man, and the cavernous Barn was ringing with the sound of stomping feet. Since the Barn can easily seat 500 people the dancing  did help to fill up the hall a bit.

    The Bushwhackers played a good set which was well received . However, a number of people disappeared afterwards, so Fairport faced an even smaller crowd when they straggled on-stage .I gave them a good few whoops of encouragement, but by and large the audience was pretty cool. The lads would need to prove themselves to this lot. No partisan crowd here by any means. I did not take any notes of the set list , but since the Fairporters have not been noted for their  set list variation in their latter years its safe to say they played a very similar if not identical set to the Dom Polski set list displayed above. This was probably a mistake in some respects.....

    This was the first time I saw Martin Allcock and Ric Sanders in the line up. In fact I'd not seen Fairport since 1970 at the Bath Festival and to some extent I'd lost interest in their activities since Richard Thompson and the Swarb had left. Nevertheless, now the opportunity to see then had arrived, I was most interested in what they were up to , tonight was a very pleasant surprise.

    It was magic.

   I was captivated by the playing of Ric Sanders . Multi instrumentalist Martin Allcock proved to be a top quality player on all fronts, Peggy , Simon and Dave Mattacks were as usual , just as great a bunch of players and funny bastards on-stage as I ever remembered them way back in the paisley coloured passages of time. The interplay between the band was exquisite. Relaxed as a pair of well worn old boots on-stage , for Fairport, there was no attempt to upstage the Bushwhackers by pulling out all the jigs and uptempo numbers. Sure, they did a fair portion of these crowd pleasers, songs both old and new . For me it was great to hear the oldies such as Walk Awhile and Lark in the Morning live once more, but the highlights were really the slow numbers , for example - The Hiring Fair  . My first exposure to this number, - I was smitten,, the lads tackled it with such restraint and finesse, I was in tears by the end. And then they played SLOTH .

SLOTH !!!!!
     I just wish that Sloth would come back in the set list. I really think that this is the one number that Fairport have played over the years that truly fulfils their potential as a jamming band .A Sailors Life COULD have been the one , but it seems to have hardly ever made it into the live arena. Matty Groves lacks the variety in its makeup to truly stand as a genuine jamming piece. Slothis and almost all the versions I have heard have been just bloody brilliant . The Dom Polski version gives me a fair idea just why I freaked out so much over this little ditty in Mt. Gambier, it goes on forever, a long slow atmospheric build up , full of menace and angst, with slithery guitars and restrained drumming , which then blasts off into the stratosphere propelled by Monsieur Sandersviolin only to crash headlong into a Dark Star like feedback ending which then gently spools into the final chorus. Wonderful.

    However, this crowd were not particularly impressed, they wanted bush dance stuff, not Grateful Dead like extended jams that lasted 15 minutes. The band largely lost them on the more adventurous numbers and it was hard to win them back , although they did enjoy the final numbers.  Matty Groves and the medley that followed was the usual mixture of blood and knees up mother brown , a groove-fest of jigs taken at breakneck pace. I'm sure they finished with a very sweet version of Meet On The Ledge and I floated out into the night buoyed up on a magic carpet woven especially for me by the best folk rock band in the world......

Fairport Convention.
    Of course, then the buggers did not return to Australia for a whole decade. Perhaps they lost too much money on the country gigs. In the meantime , their audience got older, died off and were given the opportunity to forget about them ...

    But you can read about this if you follow the links below. 

Fairport Convention In Australia pages

The 1970s
  • Watch this space

Fairport Convention in the Mother Country


If you have any contributions you can add to this page Contact us

Main Archive.