John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra 1974 & 1975

John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra 1974 & 1975. mahisv75
I was lucky enough to see the second Mahavishnu Orchestra three times. The first time was at the Knebworth Bucolic Frolic concert in 1974 where they shared the bill with The Allman Brothers, the Doobies, Van Morrison, SAHB and Tim Buckley. The setlist from Knebworth was: Wings of Karma,Sanctuary, Vision is a Naked Sword, Hymn to Him. This was a big band and the line up was: John McLaughlin – lead guitar, Jean-Luc Ponty – electric violin, Gayle Moran – keyboards, Michael Walden – drums, Carole Shive – drums, Marsha Westbrook – viola, Phillip Hirschi – cello, Steve Frankewicz and Bob Knapp – trumpet, fluegelhorn, flute, and Steve Kindler – violin. I remember that the band were all dressed in white and that McLaughlin started the set with a short reading, or it could even have been a prayer. mahavprog My next Mahavishnu experience was at Newcastle City Hall in 1975, and the programme comes from that gig. I looked up the meaning of Mahavishnu out of interest, and found this on Wikipedia: “Mahavishnu (Devanāgarī: महाविष्णु) is an aspect of Vishnu, the Absolute which is beyond human comprehension and is beyond all attributes. The term Mahavishnu is similar to Brahman and Almighty Absolute Supreme Personality of Godhead”. Pretty deep mystic stuff; eh?! And that about sums up their music; heavy, deep, with superb musicianship, jazz-rock, fusion, challenging, enjoyable, frustrating, exciting, boring; all of those things in part. Like nothing I have seen before or since. The last time I saw John McLaughlin and his Mahavishnu Orhestra was at the Reading Festival in 1975, where they shared a bill with Soft Machine, Robin Trower and headliners Wishbone Ash. McLaughlin is an intriguing character, and undoubtedly a musical genius. He still plays today, and I have just added him to the list of people I intend to try and see again in the next few years.

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