Joe Cocker and many others Great Western Express Festival Lincoln May Bank holiday weekend 1972
I was 15 at the time and so excited about going to a real pop festival. My dad drove me and a couple of mates down on the Friday night, after we’d been to the local Mecca ballroom. We arrived in the early hours of Saturday morning, having missed the Friday night bands, and slept in a big crash tent for a few hours. We soon ran into a group of other lads who had also come down from Sunderland, and between us we built a cabin out of bails of hay and planks of wood which were lying around in the fields. I swear there were around 20 of us sleeping in there. We were quite close to the stage, and I pretty much stayed in that cabin all weekend. We could also stand on the roof and watch the bands. There was a massive (and very empty) press enclosure which divided the crowd from the stage, so no-one could get that close, which was bad planning. The weather was wet, with rain for most of the weekend. But I didn’t care; this was a real pop festival, and I was determined to enjoy every minute. The line-up for the remaining three days of the event was really strong. I’ll try and recall as much as I can.
Saturday. Nazareth opened the day around noon. I remember them playing Morning Dew, and thinking that they were ok. They were followed by Locomotive GT, Roxy Music who were playing their first major gig and Heads, Hands and Feet, featuring the great Albert Lee, who I remember playing “Warming up the band”. The first band I have strong memories of was Wishbone Ash. They hd just released “Argus” and their set consisted of all the classic Ash songs: Time Was, Blowin’ Free, Jailbait, The King Will Come, Phoenix etc. They were just wonderful at that time. Helen Reddy did not perform, and was replaced by Rory Gallagher, who had stayed on from the Friday to play again, as I understand his Friday set was cut short because of the weather. The Strawbs featured the classic Cousins/Hudson/Ford line-up at the time. This was before any of the hits. Pretty sure they played “The Hangman and the Papist” and “The Man who called himself Jesus”. Stone The Crows were next up. This was their first performance after Les Harvey’s death, and Steve Howe from Yes stood in on guitar. Maggie Bell’s performance was highly emotional and the crowd gave her the strongest reception of the day, sensing how real the blues was to her that night, coming only a few weeks after she had lost her boyfriend. Rod Stewart and The Faces closed Saturday night. I remember Rod wearing a silver lame jacket and that they were pretty ramshackle, but good.
Sunday. The Natural Acoustic Band started the day, followed by Focus who warmed the crowd up with Sylvia, and Brewers Droop who were a raunchy boogie band who popped up at a few festivals in those days. Spencer Davis played with his new band, which was heavy on steel guitar and country oriented, followed by The Incredible String Band. Lindisfarne were the first band to get the crowd going and were a big hit of the weekend. We were all on the roof of our cabin, singing along to Fog on the Tyne. Average White Band were followed by The Persuasions who were an a cappella soul band, and were impressive. The next big hit of the day were Slade, who just tore the place apart. They started this performance with a lot to prove to a “Hippy” crowd, who viewed slade as a pop act. By the end of the performance everyone was singing along and converted. They were just great. Monty Python’s Flying Circus, with the entire cast, did all their great sketches: Dead Parrot, Lumberjack Song, Argument; great fun. The Beach Boys closed the evening and were wonderful singing all the hits. Great end to a great day.
Monday. The morning featured some folk acts, who had been moved to the main stage because the folk tent had been damaged by the weather. I remember Jonathan Kelly performing and singing “Ballad of Cursed Anna” which is a favourite of mine to this day. Jackson Heights, featuring Lee Jackson from the Nice started the main part of the day off, followed by Atomic Rooster, Vincent Crane collapsing (as he normally did) during Gershatzer. Vinegar Joe with Elkie Brooks and Robert Palmer were next up, followed by the Sutherland Brothers. The next two bands were both up and coming at the time: Genesis and Status Quo. They were both festival favourites, Peter Gabriel with his shaved forehead, telling those great stories to introduce beautiful songs such as Musical Box, and Quo were still trying to establish themselves as a proper rock band and shake off the pop image, which they were doing very well with tracks such as Someones Learning and Is It Really Me? Don McLean sang American Pie and the rain stopped for him. Humble Pie were something else. Steve Marriott was at the top of his game and was fully into his “My skin is white but my soul is black” routine. I Don’t Need No Doctor!! Just great. Sha Na Na, still featuring in all our minds from the Woodstock movie, had us all singing along. Joe Cocker closed the festival. He came on very late as I recall. There was a long wait and he took to the stage in the early hours of the morning. I remember him singing The Letter and Cry Me a River. He was good, but I was tired and cold by that time. All my mates had gone to sleep.
Other memories of the weekend. A large black and white screen above the stage, which worked some of the time. They showed movies on it throughout the night. I watched Marlon Brando in The Wild One, which was banned in the UK (!) at the time. Lots of chants of Wally. People openly selling dope with price lists on their tents. Hari Krishna’s giving out free food. A straw fight during (I think) Lindisfarne’s set. Everyone around me had also been to the Bickershaw festival a couple of weeks before, and were taking about how great The Grateful Dead and Captain Beefheart were. I was dead jealous.
I caught the train back on Tuesday. My mates variously hitched and scored lifts. I arrived home tired, unwashed, and determined to go to as many festivals as I could in the future, which I sort of stuck to for the remainder of the 70s.
Archive for the ‘Atomic Rooster’ Category
Posted by vintagerock in Al Matthews, Atomic Rooster, Average White Band, Beach Boys, Brewers Droop, COB, Don McLean, Focus, Genesis, Head Hands and Feet, Humble Pie, Incredible String Band, Jackson Heights, Joe Cocker, Jonathan Kelly, Lindisfarne, Locomotive GT, Monty Pythons Flying Circus, Natural Acoustic Band, Nazareth, Persuasions, Rory Gallagher, Roxy Music, Sha Na Na, Slade, Spencer Davis, Status Quo, Stone the Crows, Strawbs, Sutherland Brothers, The Faces, Vinegar Joe, Wishbone Ash. Tagged: blues, concert, concerts, folk, gig, gigs, music, pop, pop festival, prog rock, psych, R&B, rock, rock n roll. 4 comments
Joe Cocker and many others Great Western Express Festival Lincoln May Bank holiday weekend 1972
Redcar Bowl: The Adverts; Atomic Rooster and other memories
I read a report the other day that a lady from Teesside is planning to put gigs on at The Redcar Bowl again. It would be great to see that the old Coatham Bowl active again as a concert venue. My mates and I spent some great nights during the 70s, usually Sundays as I recall, at the Coatham Bowl. We often stopped off in The Lobster for a drink before the gig. They used to have a lobster on a string which crawled up the wall when you came in the door. I wonder if it is still there? A lot of great bands played there throughout the 70s, following on from the days of the Redcar Jazz Club, which saw all the greats play in the 60s. I remember gigs by Lindisfarne, Chris Rea, The Flaming Groovies with The Damned supporting, UFO, SAHB without Alex, Split Enz (Finn brothers prior to Crowded House), Magazine (awesome), The Adverts (see ticket stub), Frankie Miller, Meal Ticket, Mr Big, The Rich Kids with Midge Ure and Glen Matlock, The Climax Blues Band, The Jags (the guitarist hit a guy in the audience over the head with his guitar for spitting at him!), Atomic Rooster (see ticket stub), Dave Edmunds Rockpile with Nick Lowe, Destroy all Monsters, X Ray Spex, my personal 70s favourites Penetration, The B52s, Dead Fingers Talk (great band; forgotten and very underrated), and many others that I can’t remember.
The last time I was there was when Will and I went to see Peter Green with the Splinter group, which was probably in the 80s. I have some ticket stubs for gigs that I attended at the Bowl, but for many of the gigs I paid at the door and didn’t get a ticket, or the ticket was given up on the way in. Of the two gigs I have shown tickets for here (I have others which I must dig out), I have little recollection of The Adverts gig, in fact I can’t remember being there at all! I do remember loving the Gary Gilmore’s Eyes single and seeing the The Adverts a few times at Newcastle, once supporting Iggy at the City Hall, and another gig at Newcastle Guildhall, where The Adverts were supported by Penetration and Warsaw, before they became Joy Division. I also think I saw them at the legendary Middlesbrough Rock Garden. The Atomic Rooster gig was part of a reunion tour, as I recall. Vincent Crane, who is sadly no longer with us, was a master of the swirling Hammond organ, who served his apprenticeship with Arthur Brown. He would do an organ solo called Gershatzer (thanks John for the correct spelling!), his piece de resistance, during which he would collapse and fall to the floor under the organ. The first time I saw him collapse I thought it was for real, but after seeing him do so a few times, I began to realise it was part of the act! I love 60s Hammond solos, and Vincent was one of the best.
A series of gigs are planned (see http://www.roundelpromotions.co.uk ) with others to follow. Good luck with the gigs; see you at The Hollies in August. Hope you do manage to get The Damned to come back to play in Redcar; it’s about time I saw them again. I’ll remember to stand near the back, I don’t want the Captain to pee on us as he did (naked) at the Rock Garden.
Update on March 4th 2012. I don’t know what has happened, but the Roundel Promotions website doesn’t seem to exist anymore and I read on a local news site that the gigs are not going ahead as planned, which is a shame. I was looking forward to seeing The Hollies in Redcar, but I guess that’s not going to happen now. Does anyone know what happened to the plans?