The Reading Festival 23rd – 25th August 1974
This was my third visit to the Reading Festival; I felt I was a seasoned festival goer 🙂 . By now a large crew of local people were going to the festival, so there were lots of mates there, and we spent much of the weekend in the pubs in town, and down near the Caversham Bridge; particularly The Griffin. We would nip back to the festival site to catch the bands we wanted to see. The line-up in 1974 wasn’t particularly strong in comparison to the previous couple of years, and quite a few bands who had been advertised didn’t show (notably Eric Burdon, Ronnie Lane and Blodwyn Pig, all of whom I was looking forward to seeing). The Friday line-up was : Nutz, Johnny Mars, Hustler, Beckett, Camel, 10c, Fumble, Sensational Alex Harvey Band.
The first night of the festival saw the triumphant headlining return of the Alex Harvey band, who lived up to their name and were truly sensational. SAHB had appeared low down on the bill the previous year; there will have been many in the crowd who saw that performance, and knew how good they were. Johnny Mars and his Sunflower Blues Band gigged a lot in the early 70s; they played traditional blues; I remember seeing them at Sunderland Poly a few times; pretty good too. Fumble were a rock’roll revival band who also gigged a lot. Beckett were local North East heroes, featuring singer Terry Slesser. The SAHB setlist was something like this: Faith Healer; Midnight Moses; Can’t Get Enough; Give My Regards To Sergeant Fury; The Return of Vambo; The Man in the Jar; Money Honey; The Impossible Dream; Schools Out; Framed.
Saturday line-up: Jack the Lad, G T Moore and the Reggae Guitars, Trapeze, Sutherland Brothers, JSD Band, Procol Harum, Thin Lizzy, Long John Baldry, Heavy Metal Kids, Greenslade, Georgie Fame, Traffic.
Two bands stick in my mind from Saturday: Thin Lizzy who were excellent, and about to break through a year or so later, and Traffic. This was the classic Lizzy line-up featuring front-man Phil Lynott, the twin guitars of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson, and Brian Downey on drums; at the time of the Nightlife album; they were at the top of their game. Traffic were excellent. They had just released their album When the Eagle Flies, and their set at Reading featured a few songs from that album, plus some old classics. The line-up at the time was Steve Winwood (guitar, vocals, keyboards); Chris Wood (flute, sax); Jim Capaldi (drums, vocals); Rosko Gee (bass); Rebop (percussion). Stand-outs were Steve singing John Barleycorn, simple and beautiful with acoustic guitar, and Rebop’s congas and percussion throughout. I found a published setlist for Traffic, which shows they played: Empty Pages; Graveyard People; Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring; John Barleycorn; 40,000 Headmen; Love; When the Eagle Flies; Walking in the Wind; Dream Gerrard. I also have it in my mind that they performed Feelin’ Alright, but maybe that’s my memory playing tricks again. Also worthy of mention are Procol Harum (great version of Whiter Shade of Pale and a big success during the late afternoon), the late great Long John Baldry (excellent voice and a hero of mine), Heavy Metal Kids (the late Gary Holton as crazy and manic as ever), and Georgie Fame who seemed a bit out of place as part of the Saturday night line-up, but carried on the jazz and R’n’B tradition of the festival and went down pretty well.
Sunday Line-up: Gary Farr, Chilli Willi and the Red Hod Peppers, Esparanto, Strider, Barclay James Harvest, Chapman & Whitney Streetwalkers, Kevin Coyne, George Melly, Winkies, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, Harvey Andrews, Focus.
My main memories of the final day are of Steve Harley. Cockney Rebel had split a few months before the festival, and this one of Steve’s first appearances with his new band. They stole the show; appearing just as it was getting dark; the audience was with Steve from the start, and the performance was a triumph. Tumbling Down closed the set with a mass crowd singalong of “Oh dear, look what they’ve done to the blues, blues, blues”. It was clear that Steve was back, as cocky as ever; 1975 would bring him massive success with Make Me Smile.
I also remember watching Kevin Coyne (Marjory Razorblade), George Melly (a return after his success the previous year) and Focus who closed the show, and were also great, but seemed a little of anti-climax after Steve Harley’s performance.
DJs for the weekend were John Peel and Jerry Floyd. Oh and there were lots of cheers of “Wally”, “John Peels a c**t” (not sure how that one started), and a revolt at the prices of food in the arena, which resulted in a fish and chip van being trashed. Crazy, happy days.
Archive for the ‘Barclay James Harvest’ Category
John Lees Barclay James Harvest Newcastle Tyne Theatre 2006
It had been more than 20 years since I had last seen Barclay James Harvest. I’d grown disillusioned with the band in the early 1980s; however when I saw that John Lees’ version of the band was coming to the Tyne Theatre, I decided to go along. The Tyne Theatre is a nice little venue, and for this gig a respectable crowd turned out to see the band. The line up for this gig was :John Lees, Woolly Wolstenholme, Craig Fletcher (b), Kevin Whitehead (dr), Mike Bramwell (kb), and the setlist was: For No One; Child Of The Universe; Harbour; If Love Is King; The Iron Maiden; The Great 1974 Mining Disaster; She Said; Cheap The Bullet; Poor Man’s Moody Blues; Galadriel; Suicide?; Medicine Man; In Search Of England; Poor Wages; Mocking Bird; The Poet/After The Day; Hymn. I was surprised how many songs I recognised: For No One; Child Of The Universe; The Great 1974 Mining Disaster; She Said; Poor Man’s Moody Blues; Galadriel; Suicide?; The Poet/After The Day; and Hymn brought back memories of those City Hall concerts all those years ago. Mocking Bird was as beautiful as ever; I went home and dug out my (very scratched) copy of the Harvest single and played it again and again as I had in the 70s. I was hooked again.
The 1980 Barclay James Harvest tour (ticket left and programme below) was the first chance for UK fans to see the band after the departure of Wooly. We all wondered how the band would shape up with the new line-up which was built around the three remaining members, but actually it was OK. For the tour the set included: Love On The Line; Capricorn; Rock ‘N’ Roll Lady; Nova Lepidoptera; Play To The World; Alright Down Get Boogie; The Song (They Love To Sing); Sperratus; Jonathan; Sip Of Wine; Loving Is Easy; Hymn. During the 70s many bands would play their “new album” on tour, and this was the norm for Barclay James in this period. A new lp; a new set; and a new tour. That was OK, but it was disappointing to see old favourites like Mockingbird being dropped from the set. One good thing about seeing classic bands now is that they play all of the old favourites, and are happy to return to their heritage. Looking at the setlist for the 1980 tour, the only song I recognise is Hymn. Later in 1980 the band played a massive free concert at the Reichstag in West Berlin, in front of an audience of 250,000 people. In many ways Barclay James were at the peak of their success in the early 80s, however, their golden creative period had passed, and their material was not as strong as it had been in the 70s, and to be honest I was becoming tired of seeing them. The set for the 1981 tour (ticket above, programme right) consisted of: Rock ‘N’ Roll Lady; Capricorn; The Song (They Love To Sing); Death Of A City; Berlin; How Do You Feel Now; Back To The Wall; Nova Lepidoptera; Crazy City; Suicide?; Echoes And Shadows; Sperratus; Love On The Line; In Memory Of The Martyrs; Life Is For Living; Poor Man’s Moody Blues; Highway For Fools; Play To The World; Hymn. Again, this was mostly new stuff to me, although it was good to see them play Poor Man’s Moody Blues and Hymn again. But for me, a Barclay James Harvest concert without Mockingbird will always disappoint a little. I missed the next few tours, and didn’t go to see them again until over twenty years later. I’ll write something on that experience tomorrow.
I guess, although I might not have fully realised it at the time, I was pretty into Barclay James Harvest in the 70s. They were one of the bands who I would go along and see with my mates, and we always enjoyed the show. We sort of took them for granted; they toured a lot, you could always go along and see them; you could rely on them to play well (and they would always play Mockingbird). I first saw them at gigs in Sunderland Top Rank and The Locarno. The first time was around 1972, at the Top Rank with the great Del Bromham and Stray support. Stray used to have dustbins on stage with explosives in. These were ignited during All In Your Mind, and nearly blew the roof off; I’m sure Health and Safety rules would outlaw such things these days. Barclay James set around this time consisted of early songs such as She Said; Mocking Bird; Medicine Man; Moonwater; Summer Soldier; The Poet; After The Day; Galadriel; Dark Now My Sky. I also saw them when they appeared at the Reading festival in 1974. By the mid to late 70s they were headlining, and selling out concert halls across the UK. I went to see them at Newcastle City Hall in 1977 (ticket above). That was the Gone To Earth tour (programme to left) and the setlist at the time was: Child Of the Universe; Rock ‘N’ Roll Star; Poor Man’s Moody Blues; Mockingbird; Hard Hearted Woman; Medicine Man; Taking Me Higher; Suicide?; Crazy City; Jonathan; Polk Street Rag; Hymn. There show were always 100% professional, if smewhat predictable. At the time I saw them as an alternative to The Moody Blues, who were on a sabbatical throughout the mid 70s. Mockingbird was (and still is) a favourite song of mine and I would look forward to seeing them play it. Barclay James were back at the City Hall in 1978 (ticket right and programme below). This was the XII tour and the setlist was something like: Nova Lepidoptera; Hard Hearted Woman; Poor Man’s Moody Blues; Berlin; Medicine Man; Sip Of Wine; Suicide?; Rock ‘N’ Roll Star; In Search Of England; Jonathan; Child Of The Universe; Mockingbird; Loving Is Easy; Hymn Throughout this period the classic line up was: John Lees – vocals and guitar; Les Holroyd – bass and vocals; Mel Pritchard – drums, percussion; the late Stuart “Woolly” Wolstenholme – vocals, mellotron, keyboards. After this tour Wooly left the band, which was a big shock. I remember a lot if talk at the time as to whether the band should, or could, continue without him, which they did. They were back at the City Hall a couple of years later. I’ll write about that gig tomorrow.
John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest Salford Lowry Theatre Manchester April 12th 2009 (Easter Sunday)
I guess, although I might not have fully realised it at the time, I was pretty into Barclay James Harvest in the 70s. They were one of the bands who I would go along and see with my mates, and we always enjoyed the show. We sort of took them for granted; they toured a lot, you could always go along and see them; you could rely on them to play well (and they would always finish with Mockingbird). Somewhere along the way I lost touch with them, and I’d almost forgotten them altogether until a couple of years ago when John Lees’ version of the band came to Newcastle. I went along that night not knowing what to expect and was surprised how good they were, and how many of the old songs came back to me after 30 years. Since then, I’ve kept in touch with BJH by visiting their website now and then.
So when I saw that they were planning to perform a special concert for fans on Easter Sunday in Salford I decided I’d go along. Laura had heard me playing Mockingbird and After the Day and was intrigued enough to fancy joining me, so we bought two tickets. That was last November; we’ve been looking forward to the show since then.
We set off early after an Easter lunch with the family, and arrived at the Lowry centre at 6pm, with plenty of time to spare. There was time for a pizza in the Quays before we made our way into the Lowry for the show. The Lowry is a lovely venue overlooking the river just next to the Quays shopping centre.
Fans of the band had travelled from all over the UK for the concert; everyone was looking forward to this; so it was going to be pretty special. A special one-off programme for the concert was included in the ticket price and as a nice touch they had printed the names of everyone in the audience inside. Laura was a little disappointed that the smallest t-shirts available were medium; which would still be like a dress on her; so she decided to pass this time.
First up was support act Claire Hamill, another name from the 70s who seems to have re-emerged recently. She did a few numbers which went down quite well. Then there was a short internal before the main act.
BJH started with For No One and were on great form. The sound was clear and John Lees’ guitar work was as good as ever. Keyboard player Wooley was in a chatty mood, cracking jokes with the crowd and with the bass guitarist in particular. The set was largely well know favourites from the early albums, each one greeted by a great roar from the crowd. The band clearly enjoyed the gig and played with a lot more passion that the last time I saw them. John forgot the opening lines of Mockingbird, but was forgiven by the audience. The show finished at around 10.45pm and we headed off home; got back around 1.15am. Laura’s verdict was that they were OK, but perhaps a little dated nowadays. Me, I thought it was great, and yes it maybe is dated and like going back to the 70s, but I guess thats what I went for anyway!
For No One
The Great 1974 Mining Disaster
Child of The Universe
Loving is Easy (X-Rated)
Light at the End of the World
Poor Man’s Moody Blues
In Search of England
H’ors d’oeuvres (someone spell that for me??)
After the Day