The Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1975
The Reading Festival hit its peak of success in the mid ’70s, and the 1975 festival sold out in advance. Although the previous years’ festivals that I had attended all seemed pretty full, you were still able to roll up and pay at the entrance. In 1975 the success of the festival and the draw of bands like Yes and Wishbone Ash ensured the site was completely packed, with hardly any room to be found in the campsites and car parks.
Friday line-up: Stella, Judas Priest, Wally, Kokomo, UFO, Dr Feelgood, Hawkwind. Judas Priest were an up and coming heavy rock band and were gigging constantly, as were UFO. Kokomo were a jazz/rock/funk outfit who were very successful during the ’70s. But the big success of Friday (and arguably the entire weekend) was Dr Feelgood, who were a massive hit with the festival crowd; Wilko and Lee being on red hot form. I was with a couple of guys who had recently become big Feelgood fans; “Back In The Night” had just been released and they were constantly singing it in my ear. “All around visible signs of the Doctor’s now-massive popularity – such as the many home-made banners (“Feelgood”, “Wilko” et al), the rapturous reception, the sea-of-weaving arms” (NME, 1975). “When Dr Feelgood stamped off they had within an hour, transformed this alfresco association into a tiny, sweaty, steaming R&B club. Charisma is too weak a word to describe what the Feelgoods had going for them that night.” (Brian Harrigan, Melody Maker, August 30, 1975). Hawkwind were ok, but it was cold, and they found it difficult to follow the Feelgood’s storming set.
Saturday line-up: Zzebra, SNAFU, Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias, Kursaal Flyers, Thin Lizzy, Alan Stivell, Heavy Metal Kids (billed simply as “Kids” in the programme), Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Supertramp, Yes.
My memories are of Thin Lizzy delivering an excellent set as always; they were gradually building up their own following and would soon break through to become massive; The Heavy Metal Kids being as OTT as ever; and Yes, who were amazing. I must also mention the Kursaal Flyers, who are sadly often forgotten in the history of pub rock; they would hit the charts in the following year with the great pop single: “Little Does She Know” (“I know that she knows that I know she’s two timing me”). Supertramp were on the verge of mega-success; they had hit the charts with “Dreamer” and had a considerable following. I was, and remain, a big Yes fan and their performance at Reading came at a point where the band were at the peak of their success. I recall it being very cold, with epic versions of “Close to the Edge” and “And You and I”, and a great version of “Roundabout” as an encore (very late and off to our tents). A bootleg exists of Yes’ set that night: Sound Chaser; Close To The Edge; And You And I; Awaken; The Gates Of Delirium; I’ve Seen All Good People; Ancient; Long Distance Run Around; Ritual; Roundabout.
Sunday line-up: Joan Armatrading, Babe Ruth, String Driven Thing, Climax Blues Band, Caravan, Soft Machine, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Robin Trower, Wishbone Ash. My memory of Sunday is of Wishbone Ash. Like Yes they were enjoying massive success at the time, and also like Yes they played a set of pure class, with the twin guitars of Andy Powell and Laurie Wisefield soaring through the cool, late Sunday evening.
Our DJs for the weekend were once again John Peel and Jerry Floyd. The weather was cold, with some rain, and the beer can fights were constant throughout the weekend. The festival had always been an organised, carefully planned event, but was becoming even more commercial. The nature of the festival, and its line-up, would transform further in the years which followed; with the emergence of punk and the re-emergence of heavy metal through the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal). Any elements of the jazz festivals of the 60s had also disappeared.
Thanks to BaldBoris for allowing his image of the festival to be used through the WikiMedia Commons licence agreement.
Archive for the ‘Caravan’ Category
Caravan Sage Gateshead Jan 12th 2013
For Girls Who Grow Plump 40th Anniversary UK Tour
Went to see Caravan at the Sage Gateshead last night. I can’t pretend to be a big fan, or to know much of their material but I enjoyed the gig much more than I expected. The set was drawn from “For Girls Who Grow Plump In the Night” and “Land of Grey and Pink” albums. The gig was in Hall 2, which is the smaller hall, and was packed with a very appreciative crowd of fans. I didn’t recognise any of the material; the only Caravan tracks I remember are “If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You” and “For Richard” Not being familair with a band’s material usually makes a gig boring for me, but I found last night pretty enjoyable. Caravan’s music has always been difficult to categorise, blending rock, prog, jazz, and folk. The latest line-up is original member Pye Hastings – guitar, vocals; Jim Leverton – bass; Geoffrey Richardson (who has been with the band since 1972) – guitar, viola, violin; Jan Schelhaas – keyboards and Mark Walker – drums, percussion. Some beautiful violin playing, and some nifty spoon antics, from Geoff, and Pye’s vocals held up well considering that he was suffering from the “lurgy”. The last track was the very long “Nine Feet Underground” which went down well with the crowd. A nice concert by a legendary band. list: Memory Lain, Hugh / Headloss; In the Land of Grey and Pink; Smoking Gun (Right for Me); The Unauthorized Breakfast Item; L’ Auberge du Sanglier / A Hunting We Shall Go / Backwards; The Dog The Dog, He’s At It Again; Golf Girl; Nightmare; Fingers in the Till; Chance of a Lifetime; Nine Feet Underground.
Caravan Newcastle City Hall 23rd Sept 1977
I first saw Caravan in the early 70’s at Sunderland Locarno. I’d seen them on Top of the Pops performing “If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You” and remember them playing that song, which probably places the gig around 1971. This would have been the classic Caravan line up of David Sinclair, Richard Sinclair, Pye Hastings and Richard Coughlan. The ticket and programme pictured here are from a later gig, which I attended at Newcastle City Hall in 1977. Caravan were promoting their latest album “Better by Far” at the time. Support came from Nova, who were an Italian progressive rock/jazz fusion band. I recall there being quite a bit of publicity around Caravan at the time. They had moved to a new record label, the new album was produced by Tony Visconti, and they embarked upon a tour of concert halls which took them around the UK. The line-up had changed considerably from the early days, with only Pye Hastings and Richard Coughlan remaining from the original band. I recall the gig as a night of pleasant melodic rock, with tracks from the new album which were much more poppy than their earlier material. Caravan have reformed recently and are playing The Sage Gateshead in January. Time to revisit them, I think.