Before iconic singer-songwriter, Sandy Denny, joined Fairport Convention the band had a previous and lesser-known female vocalist, Judy Dyble, who sang on their first album. After her time with Fairport, Judy was involved in a handful of projects before quitting the music business altogether in the early 70s, spending time bringing up a family and working as a librarian. The story doesn’t end there, though, as the early 2000s saw Judy begin writing, recording and performing once more. Which brings us to today’s gig in the O2. The main arena at the O2 is one of the busiest and largest music venues in the world, with a seating capacity of 20,000. The WM Jazz bar at the O2 is a somewhat smaller affair, with a seating capacity of 84. But the intimate setting was perfectly suited to Judy’s performance. Judy and her talented six-piece backing band performed numerous songs from her two most recent albums, 2009’s Talking with Strangers and 2013’s Flow & Change, delivered with the same pure, fresh, English vocals that we heard on that first ever Fairport album. They are beautifully written songs, too, such as Jazzbirds, Grey October Day, Wintersong and The Sisterhood of Ruralists
We also got a few glimpses back into the past, too. She gave us Jenny May, a track from her album with her post-Fairport band, Trader Horn, and a perfect recreation of If I Have a Ribbon Bow, the wonderfully eccentric first ever single from Fairport Convention.
Judy is quite possibly the least showbizzy singer you could ever hope to meet: the complete lack of ego meant they didn’t even have an encore prepared and thus gave a repeat performance of If I Had a Ribbon Bow. However, what you do get is beautiful songs, beautifully performed. And, as Judy’s first and very wonderful album with Fairport Convention edges closer towards its 50th anniversary, it would be nice if her more recent music also became known to a wider audience.