The Reading Festival 27 – 29 August 1976
It was August Bank Holiday 1976 and I was back at Reading for the annual festival. By now a group of us went every year, usually traveling down in the back of a hired transit van. The line-up for this festival wasn’t as strong as previous years, and included a mix of reggae, classic rock, underground and heavy metal bands. Punk was on the horizon, but yet to break through. The other memories I have are of rain (some, but not lots in 1976, as I recall), mud, lots of drunkenness (by us, and every one else as I remember), and lots (and I mean lots) of can fights, which seemed fun at the time, but were probably actually pretty dangerous. If you got a half-full can of Watney’s Red Barrel on the back of your head, you really knew about it, and several people must have come home from the festival with pretty nasty cuts and scars. The festival was moving from a friendly, hippy vibe to a drunken, laddish, almost aggro vibe. This also matched the way the line-up and the music would develop, as it moved more to heavy metal in the late ’70s. The main attraction for us this year was Rory, who was the man, and a hero to us all.
Friday’s line-up consisted of Stallion (don’t recall who they were), Roy St John (American pub rock), U Roy (reggae), Supercharge (a Liverpool band fronted by singer and sax player Albie Donnelly, who had quite a bit of success in the mid-70s and played a lot up and down the country; I remember seeing them several times), Mighty Diamonds (reggae), Mallard (Cpt Beefheart’s original Magic Band, and pretty good too) and headliners the hippy, trippy and quite weird Gong. I remember watching Mallard and Gong, who were both pretty good.
Saturday had Nick Pickett (a folk singer, who I’d seen supporting Curved Air a few years earlier), Eddie & The Hot Rods (classed as pub rock as much as punk at this stage), Moon, Pat Travers (ace guitarist), Jon Hiseman’s Colosseum, Sadista Sisters, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Van Der Graaf Generator, Phil Manzanera and the 801 band, Camel and Rory Gallagher. Stand outs for me were Van Der Graaf who played an amazing extended version of Killer (John Peel: “Bloody marvellous, Van der Graaf Generator. Come on let’s here it for them”), Manfred Mann, and Phil Manzanera and the 801 band, which was seen as a pretty big deal at the time as Phil had assembled a stella line-up of himself (guitar), ex-Roxy compatriot Brian Eno (keyboards, synthesizers, vocals), Bill MacCormick (bass, vocals), Simon Phillips (drums), Francis Monkman (ex-Curved Air, piano and clavinet) and Lloyd Watson (ace slide-guitar, vocals). The 801 band released one album, and a live lp which was recorded at one of three gigs that they played, at the Festival Hall. They played a great version of the Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows. But Rory was the highlight of the weekend. We were all massive fans, and made our way to the front of the crowd for his set, which was just amazing. A recording of Rory’s set that night exist which shows that he played: Take What I Want; Bought and Sold; Everybody Wants To Know; Drinkin’ Muddy Water; Tattoo’d Lady; Calling Card; Secret Agent; Pistol Slapper Blues; Too Much Alcohol; Souped-Up Ford and Bullfrog Blues. The Rory Gallagher band was Rory (guitar, vocals), Lou Martin (keyboards), the great Gerry McAvoy (bass) and Rod de’Ath (drums).
Sunday featured: Howard Bragen; Aft; The Enid (who got the crowd singing along with Land Of Hope And Glory and became a festival favourite), A Band Called ‘O’; Back Door (very jazzy); Sassafras; Brand X (featured Phil Collins on drums); AC/DC (one of their early UK appearances, and just blew everyone away; Angus and Bon Scott on top form); Sutherland Bros & Quiver; Ted Nugent (had some arguments with the crowd who were throwing cans at him); Black Oak Arkansas (Jim Dandy to the Rescue 🙂 ) and Osibisa (who were billed as special mystery guests, which seemed a bit of a let down, but got the crowd going and went down well).
Another fun time had by all 🙂
Note; for the first time there was an official glossy programme, as well as the newspaper programme, produced by the local Evening Post. Both are pictured here.
Archive for the ‘Brand X’ Category
The Reading Festival 27 – 29 August 1976
Genesis Knebworth 1978 A Midsummer Nights Dream
And Then There Were Three…..
Support from Jefferson Starship, Tom Petty, Devo, Brand X, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Roy Harper
Come 1978 and Genesis were massive news. Firstly they were one of the biggest bands in the UK, big enough to headline the massive Knebworth festival and secondly they were in the news because their line-up changed again when Steve Hackett left to pursue a solo career. Genesis were now down to three members, and hence the album title, those being Phil Collins now vocalist, frontman, and drummer extraordinaire, Mike Rutherford on bass and guitar, and Tony Banks on keyboards. The remaining musical duties we fulfilled by players Daryl Stuermer on guitar and Chester Thompson on drums. By 1978 the Knebworth Festival was well established and the line-up for this event was pretty strong. Of the other acts on the bill I remember enjoying Tom Petty particularly. In fact his set was the highlight of the day. Jefferson Starship also played a great set, which was remarkable given the absence of lead singer Grace Slick who had left the band a few days earlier, suffering from drink and drug problems. The weather was ok, warm, but not hot. Festival favourite Roy Harper was a late, unexpected and very welcome addition to the bill, coming on stage to warm the crowd up just before Genesis. The headliners took to the stage quite late in the evening, and had an amazing light show. The set was drawn mostly from their more recent albums, which was a disappointment for me, as I was hoping that they would still play some of their older material. I Know What I Like was reserved for the encore. The single at the time was Follow You Follow Me. The crowd gave Genesis a great reception with major singing along to Follow You Follow Me and I Know What I Like. I suppose this was the point where Genesis really became a mega band in the UK, and started to move more towards AOR and soft rock, and away from the beautiful mysterious prog rock what had characterised their earlier days. Although I continued to enjoy their music and saw them a few more times, something innocent and beautiful had been lost during the journey, and it wasn’t simply about the departure of Peter Gabriel. Genesis had changed into a different sort of rock act, and I guess that night at Knebworth I realised that for the first time. I enjoyed the gig but left the field longing to see them play The Musical Box, Watcher of the Skies and The Knife.
Brand X and Peter Hammill Newcastle City Hall 1978
This was a somewhat strange pairing, in fact the tour is known as “The Odd Couple Tour” on the Van Der Graaf Generator website. Brand X were a jazz rock fusion band, and were highly respected in the 70s. Phil Collins played with them at one point, although he wasn’t in the drum stool at this gig. I also saw them play at the Reading festival a year or so earlier. I recall the set as being largely (solely?) instrumental, with impressive musicianship. Setlist was apparently (I found this on a website): Access To Data; Black Moon; Smacks Of Euphoric Hysteria; The Ghost Of Mayfield Lodge; The Poke. I went along with some mates for a couple or reasons. Firstly because of the Phil Collins and Genesis connection, and secondly to see Peter Hammill, who had recently left Van Der Graaf Generator to go solo. Peter wass in a pretty crazy phase, and had shaved half his beard (see programme). He was accompanied by violin and sax, and delivered a strange set to a pretty empty hall. Peter’s set was straneg, dark, quirky and everything you would expect of him. A review of the time proclaimed him the “Springsteen of Weird”. This was a memorable gig, although it was a shame that the City Hall was pretty empty. The tour was pretty ambitious in booking this pairing into largish concert halls.