Eric Clapton Crystal Palace Garden Party 31 July 1976

Eric Clapton Crystal Palace Garden Party 31 July 1976
Support acts: Freddie King; The Chieftains; The Jess Roden Band; Barbara Dickson; Dick and the Fireman
I saw Clapton twice during 1976, once at Newcastle City Hall and at this gig at the Crystal Palace in London. A group of us went down to London by train for this gig, and when arrived at the Crystal Palace Bowl we met up with some other friends from Sunderland. It was a very hot day, as were most that summer; just right for spending the day in the park listening to some bands. The Crystal Place Bowl is a grassy picnic area, which used to have a shell-shaped stage situated at the other side of a lake from the grassy area where the audience sat. It was used for several concerts during the 70s, many of which ended with various members of the crowd taking to the water in the lake to get closer to the stage and their heroes. First up at this gig was Dick and The Fireman, who were an occasional “super”group of friends who came together for a fun jam every now and then. For that dat the incarnation consisted of Mel Collins, Neil Hubbard, Mike Patto, Alan Spenner, Carol Grimes, Bob Tench, Henry McCulloch, Tim Hinkley, Boz Burrell, Simon Kirke, John Halsey, with Larry Coryell and Ron Wood guesting on some songs. The late, and very very great, Steve Marriott is listed in the programme, but didn’t show on the day. Now Henry McCulloch is one great guitarist and the late great Mike Patto was one cool vocalist, but the set seemed like what it was; a few friends jamming for a bit fun; nothing more, nothing less. Anyway it was ok as an opener. Next up was Barbara Dickson, who had just hit the charts with “Answer Me”, followed by the very under-rated Jess Roden. I saw Jess in Bronco, as support for Free once, and several times with his “Jess Roden Band”; he sang with a lot of soul, and is sadly hardly ever mentioned these days. The Chieftains seemed quite a strange choice for the day, and delivered a set of traditional Irish folk, which was quite fun, sitting on the grass on a hot summer afternoon. Next up was the legendary Freddie King. I’d heard quite a bit of Freddie’s material on the radio, including “Have You Ever Loved A Woman”, “Hide Away” and “Tore Down” and, as I recall, he played all of those. Clapton played a relatively short and subdued set on just over an hour, with Larry Coryell and Ron Wood joining for a couple of songs. I remember Larry Coryell being particularly impressive, giving Clapton a good run for his money. By the end of the show, quite a few people were in the water. Have a feeling Jesus Jellet was dancing down the front. This wasn’t one of the best times I’ve seen Clapton, but it was a fun day. After the gig we were all back on the midnight train up north. All in all a pretty good day; three great guitarists, sun, and a day out with friends; all for £4 and a day return which was £2 or £3 at the time. Clapton Setlist: Hello Old Friend – All Our Pastimes – Tell The Truth – I Shot The Sheriff – Double Trouble – Blues Power – Going Down Slow – Stormy Monday – Layla – Further On Up The Road.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Indrani Mitra on February 2, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    It was great coming across this as I was very lucky to have been there too! I remember ignoring the bouncers and wading into the yukky water just to be close to the stage!Thanks for posting this!!!


  2. Posted by ElaR on May 15, 2014 at 10:35 am

    I too was there and thought it was wonderful, I had never been to anything like it. I fully agree about Larry Coryell much much better than Clapton. Oh memories of that long hot summer…….


  3. Posted by ElaR on May 15, 2014 at 10:36 am

    PS I still have the ticket like the one above


  4. Posted by opinionated on March 26, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Freddie King stole the show, up until he came on stage, it was quite a mundane event.
    Freddie was showbiz and certainly knew how to work a crowd.


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