Reading Festival 24th – 26th August 1979
This was my 8th visit to Reading. The line-up was a predictable mix of new wave and heavy rock. It was also a year of line-up changes. Two of the main bands who were billed to play: Thin Lizzy and The Ramones did not appear. Thin Lizzy pulled out at a few days notice due to Gary Moore’s departure from the band. Lizzy were replaced by Scorpions and The Ramones by Nils Lofgren. Both of these changes were major disappointments. The weather wasn’t bad and the event was well-attended, but didn’t sell out. My recollections of the weekend are below:
Friday line-up: Bite the Pillow, The Jags, Punishment of Luxury, Doll by Doll, The Cure, Wilko Johnson, Motorhead, The Tourists, The Police.
Friday was the “new wave” day. I watched all of the bands from Punilux onwards. Highlights were The Cure who impressed me even though the only song I had heard before was “Killing an Arab”, and Wilko and Motorhead, both acts going down a storm with the crowd, who preferred their rock heavier and more traditional. The Police were riding on the crest of a wave of success, and were amazing, Sting had the crowd in the palm of his hand, and the entire field sang along to the hits. It was great to witness a band at their peak.
The Police setlist: Deathwish; Next To You; So Lonely; Truth Hits Everybody; Walking On The Moon; Hole In My Life; Fall Out; Message In A Bottle; The Bed’s Too Big Without You; Peanuts; Roxanne; Can’t Stand Losing You; Landlord; Born In The 60s
Saturday line-up: Root Boy Slim; Fame; The Yachts; Little Bo Bitch (not sure that they played?); The Movies; Bram Tchaikovsky; Gillan; Steve Hackett; Cheap Trick; Inner Circle; Scorpions
We spent much of Saturday enjoying the delights of local hostelries and didn’t venture into the arena until later in the day. To be honest, looking at the line-up now, it was pretty uninspiring. We made it into the festival for Gillan onwards. Gillan seemed to play everywhere at the time, and were always good fun. I’d seen them so many times that I was getting to know the new songs, but I also always looked forward to hearing Purple classics, which they did including ‘Smoke on the Water”. Steve Hackett played “I Know What I Like” which prompted a mass crowd singalong. The highlight was Cheap Trick with crazy antics from Rick Nielson and an exquisite performance by Robin Zander. A video of their performance that night is on YouTube. You can find “I Want You To Want Me” here, a bit rough, but still amazing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTLEYcO2VnE
For the encore Cheap Trick were joined onstage by Dave Edmunds and Bad Company guitarist Mick Ralphs for a rendition of The Beatles’ “Day Tripper”. Classic 😄
Inner Circle’s reggae rhythms went down well. Scorpions were great (I really liked “Loving You Sunday Morning” at the time), but we were disappointed that we weren’t seeing Lizzy who had become a Reading favourite and were massive at the time.
Sunday line-up: The Cobbers; Terra Nova; Speedometers; Zaine Griff; Wild Horses; The Members; Molly Hatchett; Climax Blues Band; Nils Lofgren; Peter Gabriel; Whitesnake.
Sunday highlights for me were The Members who were in the charts with “Sounds of the Suburbs” and got a mixed reaction from the crowds with some people liking them, and others lobbing cans, and Peter Gabriel who started with “Biko” and played classic solo tracks like “Moribund The Burgermeister”, “Solsbury Hill” and “Here Comes The Flood”. Phil Collins joined Gabriel for the end of his set for “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”. Whitesnake closed the evening and were worthy headliners (although they weren’t billed as so, with Peter Gabriel and non-showers The Ramones having shared top billing in the pre-festival publicity). They started with an amazing new song “Walking in the Shadow of the Blues” which set the tone for the evening. Ian Paice had just joined on drums and Whitesnake now had three former Purple members (Coverdale, Lord and Paice).
Whitesnake setlist: Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues; Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City; Steal Away; Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick; Mistreated; Soldier Of Fortune; Love Hunter; Breakdown; Whitesnake Boogie.
An enjoyable Reading weekend, if not one of the strongest line-ups.
Archive for the ‘Bram Tchaikovsky’ Category
Uriah Heep Newcastle City Hall 4th March 1979
Support from Bram Tchaikovsky
I saw the John Lawton era Uriah Heep once more, at a concert in 1979 at Newcastle City Hall. At the end of 1978 Heep released Fallen Angel, their third studio album with this lineup lineup. The album was well received although it did not chart and Mick Box said that he thought it was “Too poppy.” Uriah Heep continued to tour and were as always, great in concert, but behind the scenes there was unrest. Ken Hensley was writing most of the material and as a result he was earning much more than his colleagues. Box is quoted as saying: “Everything he wrote, he had to use… And if you insist in using everything you end up with substandard albums.” But the relationship between Hensley and new singer John Lawton was the worst problem within the band. There was apparently “constant friction between the two, resulting in the nearest thing to violence the group had seen” and Lawton was eventually sacked in August 1979 after a festival in Belgium. Long time drummer Lee Kerslake also left the band shortly afterwards, after a row with the management, over the constant apparent insistence on the use of Ken Hensley’s songs.
The replacements were ex Lone Star front man John Sloman on vocals, a young rock singer, and drummer Chris Slade from Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. However, Ken Hensley was soon unhappy with the new singer…but more of that tomorrow. It must have been fun to be a member of Uriah Heep at the time 🙂
Support for the 1979 tour, including the City Hall show, was guitarist/singer Bram Tchaikovsky who was at the time fronting his new power pop band, having recently left the successful punk/pub rock band, The Motors (Airport!)
Typical Uriah Heep setlist from 1979: Look at Yourself; Easy Livin’; Stealin’; Falling In Love; Woman Of The Night; Lady In Black; The Wizard; July Morning; Free Me; One More Night; I’m Alive; Who Needs Me; Sweet Lorraine; Free ‘N’ Easy; Gypsy