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 ‘Brian Eno’ Category
The Reading Festival 27 – 29 August 1976
Brian Eno Movements Edinburgh International Festival 23 Aug
National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Friday, 2.30pm
As part of the Edinburgh International Festival Movements is a series of talks and events, presented in association with National Museums Scotland, exploring how artists have kept pace with technology over the centuries and how technology in turn influences artists. “An afternoon in conversation with influential, ex-Roxy Music synth player Brian Eno, as he shares his thoughts on the future of music and music production.Music since recording is a new art form, which bears only as much resemblance to traditional, performed music as cinema does to theatre. What are the special characteristics of this new art? How did it evolve? Where might it be going? Brian Eno shares his thoughts.”
Laura and I had a pleasant train journey up to Edinburgh, arriving at Waverley station shortly after noon. The weather was fine for this, our third visit to Scotland in last couple of weeks, and our second to the Edinburgh festival. We were both looking forward to hearing Brian Eno speak. He is a hugely influential figure in popular music, and we figured that it would be interesting to hear his views. I haven’t seen him in any live context since the 70s and his days with Roxy Music, and a performance with Phil Manzanera and the 801 band at the Reading festival.
The venue for Eno’s lecture was the National Museum of Scotland, which is a grand building just off the Royal Mile and a short walk from the station. We had a sandwich lunch at a cafe on Bristol Square before taking our seats in the lecture theatre. The chance of hearing Brian Eno speak does not come vey often, and the event had been sold out or some weeks. At 2.30pm prompt Eno entered the hall to a round of applause. He stood at a desk strewn with visuals, which he displayed on an overhead projector.
He explained that his talk was to centre around the two concepts of “the composer” and “the audience”, how these have developed over time and continue to develop, and how music sits between the two and “sometimes brings them together”. He then took us the through the history of the composer, starting back when music was there simply to enable dance, or as a way of creating noise which would frighten away big cats who had come to prey on ancient man. This progressed to a discussion of early recording media, and how the advent of multitrack enabled music to become an entity in its own right, a piece of aural painting or sculpture, separate from the performance, and existing not in a score, but in the record itself. He used the recording techniques of Les Paul and Mary Ford, Phil Sector and George Martin as illustrations of this, showing visuals to support his point.
Eno then turned to the subject of the audience, making a distinction between the formal, regimented, and structured way in which an audience of a classical recital behaves, and that of a rock concert, where the audience and the performer come together, sometimes literally, showing a picture of Iggy Pop standing on top of his crowd. He explained how he wanted to use technology to create aural soundscapes, as he has done in his pioneering work on ambient music.
The lecture finished with a short discussion of where music lies now, being created and layered from the recordings of our past, drawing an analogy with the techniques of the animator in film. Time was short, and the lecture was strictly constrained to one hour, which soon passed, with our speaker finishing with a couple of questions from the audience, and a few visuals left unused. One guy asked “what do you think of jazz?” and Brian answered that Frank Zappa said that “jazz was the definition of how to be unemployed”.
It was a very interesting and engaging lecture, which passed all too quickly. it was fascinating to hear Eno’s thoughts on music. Well done to the Edinburgh International Festival for including this in their programme.
Laura and I caught the 4.30pm train back to Newcastle; we were home around 7pm.