Wishbone Ash Reading Festival 24th August 1975
The Reading Festival hit its peak of success in the mid 1970s, and the 1975 festival sold out in advance, largely due to the appearances of headliners Yes (Saturday) and Wishbone Ash (Sunday) who were both massive bands at the time. DJs for the weekend were John Peel and Jerry Floyd. The weather was cold, with some rain, and beer can fights became constant throughout the weekend.
Following their experience of recording in the USA, Wishbone Ash decided to make the country their base, and all four members moved to Connecticut in early 1975. In April and May 1975 they undertook a US tour with Aerosmith, and then in July and August they went out on a major festival tour of Europe as part of manager Miles Copeland’s “Startrucking” package tour. The “Startrucking” tour featured Wishbone Ash, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Lou Reed, Soft Machine, Caravan, Climax Blues Band and Rory Gallagher and played major festivals in Germany, Belgium, Holland, Spain, France, Switzerland, Austria, and Reading in the UK. The tour ran into problems when headliner Lou Reed pulled out at the last moment, and became a financial disaster which resulted in Copeland having to liquidate his management company. At Reading the line-up featured “Startruckers” Wishbone Ash, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Soft Machine, Caravan, and Climax Blues Band. Lou Reed was billed to appear but did not. Wishbone Ash took out full page adverts in the UK music press saying “Welcome back to Britain. Steve – Andy – Laurie – Martin. Wishbone Ash. See them at the Reading festival”. We were all looking forward to it.
It was a cold and dark as Wishbone Ash took to the stage to close the festival. A capacity crowd gave them a welcome befitting returning heroes. Their visits back home were becoming less frequent and the fans had really missed seeing them. Wishbone Ash’s set was, as always, musical perfection and included tracks from current album “There’s the Rub” alongside old favourites like “Time Was” and “Blowin’ Free”. They started with the introduction to Pheonix, and the set closed by returning to the ending sequence of that epic song. Hearing the opening riff of “The King Will Come” cut through the air and drift across the packed field was pure magic. A great way to end the weekend, with the twin guitars of Andy Powell and Laurie Wisefield soaring through the late Sunday evening. Then it was back to our tents and a last night under the stars to the shouts of “Wally”, which continued until the early hours.
Setlist: Phoenix (intro), Rest in Peace, The King Will Come, Warrior, Persephone, Half Past Lovin’, Trust In You, Time Was, Blowin’ Free, Bad Weather Blues, Phoenix (closing section)
Thanks to David Major for allowing use of his picture of the Reading “Village Stores” through the Wikimedia commons licence. I remember the “Village Stores” very well. I can still feel the cold and the dew now. I would rise early at dawn; I could never sleep well in a tent, and the ground was so hard. At perhaps 5 or 6am I would leave my tent and walk around the site until the stores opened. I would then buy some fresh bread and milk. Luxury 🙂 It all seems so long ago now; a different age, a different place and almost a different world. Happy happy days.