The Reading Festival 1972
I first went to the Reading Festival in 1972 (is it really over 41 years ago 🙂 ?), and continued to go every year until 1980. I missed 1981 as it clashed with a local “Rock on the Tyne” Festival, and have never returned, although I did think of doing so on several occasions. I’m aiming to reflect on one year each week for the next few weeks, starting today with my first Reading experience.
I’d already been to the Lincoln Festival in May 1972 so I felt, as a 15 year old, I was already a hardened festival goer. I didn’t know anyone who wanted to go to Reading, so decided to go along myself. My parents weren’t keen on my idea of hitching so I agreed to go by train. The festival took place over the weekend of August 11th to 13th, 1972 starting on Friday afternoon. For some reason I decided to get the train down to London early on the Thursday night, arriving around midnight. Having nowhere to spend the night I took a tube to Piccadilly Circus and found an all-night cinema. It was showing Elvis films all night; I paid my money and sat close to the front. The cinema was quite empty, the audience was a few couples, some Elvis fans and several people alone like me, and just looking for somewhere to spend the night. I don’t recall which films were shown, I think there were six, and I’m pretty sure one was “Kid Galahad” (which, by the way, is a good movie), and I think another may have been “Fun in Acapulco” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” (not so good). I emerged, very tired, from the cinema in the early hours of the morning, and went across London to get the train to Reading. I didn’t have a ticket for the festival, so when I arrived I joined the queue and bought a weekend ticket. In those days it was all about seeing the bands, so I stayed in the queue to get a good spot in front of the stage. All I had taken was a sleeping bag; no tent; no change of clothes (I told you that I thought myself a hardened festival goer).
The Friday line-up was: Good Habit, Nazareth, Cottonwood, Steamhammer, Jackson Heights, Genesis, Mungo Jerry, Curved Air. The music started at 4pm and there were two stages set alongside each other to make for quick changeovers. I positioned myself close to the front somewhere between the two stages so I had a good view of both. There was a press enclosure right down front, and an area where the Hells Angels would encamp, so you couldn’t get that close to the stage. I got talking to a guy next to me; he was also alone, still at school and a similar age. We stuck together throughout the weekend, keeping each others place in the crowd, and sleeping there on a night in our sleeping bags. This seems crazy now, but hey I was young and just so excited about seeing the bands. You could sleep in the main enclosure in those days; you had to leave in the early morning so that they could clear up and get ready for the next day. Some clearing happened during the night; this didn’t make for a good night sleep as there was a danger that someone stood on you (this happened to me several times). The organisers stopped letting people sleep in the main enclosure a few years later; a punter was run over by a vehicle that was driving around collecting litter….The bands I recall on Friday were: Good Habit (saw them a few times, they used to were monks habits on stage), Nazareth (this was before “Broken Down Angel”; they played a great version of “Morning Dew”); Genesis (Simply amazing. I was a big fan at the time and have written separately about their set which included The Knife, Twilight Alehouse, Watcher Of The Skies, The Musical box, and The Return Of The Giant Hogweed. Classic); Mungo Jerry (got the crowd rocking), and Curved Air (also amazing; It happened today, Backstreet Luv, Sonja Kristina).
The Saturday line-up was: Jonathan Kelly, Solid Gold Cadillac, Man, Linda Lewis, Focus, Edgar Broughton, Jericho, If, Johnny Otis Show, Electric Light Orchestra, The Faces. I watched all of the bands, and also took some time to have a look around the stalls in the arena. I didn’t see any need to venture into town (that would come in later years) and spent the entire weekend within the confines of the festival. The weather was quite warm, sunny with a little drizzle now and then but nothing major, and certainly nothing compared to the rain I experienced at the Lincoln festival earlier in the year. Highlights I can dimly recall now are: Jonathan Kelly (Ballad of Cursed Anna simply wonderful), Solid Gold Cadillac (very jazzy), Man (very long guitar solos; Spunk Rock; great!), Linda Lewis (she looked so tiny on that stage and admitted to being scared), Focus (went down well with the crowd and were one of the successes of the weekend), Edgar Broughton (amazing, I was already a fan. Edgar very unspoken as always. Out Demons Out!!), If (jazzy, great guitarist), Johnny Otis Show (just blogged on them), Electric Light Orchestra (this was a very early performance and one of their first since Roy Wood’s departure. Wasn’t sure what to expect; they were good), The Faces (Rod and the guys on great form, lots of footballs kicked into the crowd, Twisting the Night Away and I’m Losing You were big live favourites of mine at the time).
The Sunday line-up was: Sutherland Brothers, Gillian McPherson, String Driven Thing, Matching Mole, Stackridge, Vinegar Joe, Status Quo, Stray, Roy Wood’s Wizzard, Mahatma Kane Jeeves, Ten Years After, Quintessence. John Peel and Jerry Floyd were comperes for the weekend. Jerry was the regular DJ at the Marquee Club, who organised the festival at the time. I spend much of the weekend chatting about music to the guy that I met on the first day and we struck up quite a friendship. I made a few friend at festivals in those days and would see some people every year but I never ran into this guy again. Wonder where he is now. Highlights of the day were: Matching Mole (featuring Robert Wyatt), Stackridge (“Slark” was a favourite of mine at the time), Vinegar Joe (Elkie just stunning), Status Quo (this was one of the shows that helped them break back. Peel was a big champion of theirs at the time; I think he introduced them as the “Finest rock’n’roll band in the world”, or something like that. They were playing amazing boogie at the time, with Francis giving it some cheeky banter. Someones Learning was a favourite), Stray (excellent, Del in mirror suit), Roy Wood’s Wizzard (pretty good, very retro rock’n’roll. Ballpark Incident had just been released), and Ten Years After (Alvin’s guitar playing was stunning, I’d just seen “Woodstock” and was a big fan). I left as Quintessence’s took to the stage as did many others (TYA were official headliners) to catch the last train to London. The tubes had stopped so I walked across London. I’d missed the midnight train so I spent the night in Kings Cross station.
Monday morning: I was stiff, tired, and scruffy. I got the first train home and went straight to bed 🙂
Wow! that took longer than I thought it would! The scans come from the newspaper style programme which was produced by the Reading Evening Post. The poster (it looks like a cartoon of Leo Lyons from TYA to me?) is from the middle of the programme. Oh and I forgot to mention the “Wally!” chants, which seemed to go on all night.
Archive for the ‘Edgar Broughton’ Category
The Reading Festival 1972
Buxton Festival 1973 Line-up: Chuck Berry; Canned Heat; Nazareth; Edgar Broughton Band; Sensational Alex Harvey Band; Medicine Head; Brewers Droop
Billed to play, but didn’t: Groundhogs; Roy Wood and Wizard
This was a pretty crazy event. The weather was miserable, but what really sticks in my mind is the Hells Angels who took control of the entire day and had us all in fear. I hitched there with my mate Gilly and arrived around lunchtime. This was a one day event with a pretty strong line-up. I was a big fan of the Groundhogs at the time, and went along largely to see Tony McPhee and the guys; sadly they didn’t play. When we arrived we found the festival which was right up on a cold moor, and the weather wasn’t great with wind and rain, and lots of mud throughout the day. A large group of Hells Angels had taken their place at the front of the crowd, bikes and all. They were all very drunk and stoned and got worse as the day went on. Every so often they would rev their bikes up and ride them through the crowd. How no-one was hurt, I don’t know. When they ran out of money for beer they came through the crowd asking for 10p from each of us. Almost everyone gave them something; we were all frightened not to. As the day went on they started to go up on stage and take control. John Peel was DJ for the event but at some point half way through the day a Hells Angel took over the mike and John left. A couple of the bands, Roy Wood and Groundhogs, arrived and saw what was going on, and left without playing. I was particularly disappointed that the Groundhogs didn’t play. Gilly and I had made a flag saying Groundhogs, which we were planning to wave during the set (that seems so sad now, but yes we really did do it). We threw the flag away in disgust when they didn’t play. All of the bands who did play were great. Edgar Broughton always gave value for money at such outdoor events, and that day was no exception. The Poppy was a favourite of mine at the time, and I remember him playing that song, in the white judo suit that he tended to wear at the time. Medicine Head were good: One and One is One was out then. Alex Harvey and his band started with the Osmonds’ Crazy Horses, which seemed a bizarre song choice for a rock band, but worked well. I also remember a great version of Del Shannon’s Runaway being another surprise that day. Alex jumped into the crowd at one point and faced up to a Hells Angel who was trying to beat up another guy, and stopped the violence. Alex had no fear; I had deep respect for the guy. Zal was crazy as ever and looked evil in his clown suit. Canned Heat gave us some great boogie, with Bob the Bear pumping away on his mouth harp. Nazareth were also excellent with Dan singing with a Hells Angel alongside him. By the time Chuck Berry took to the stage it was full of Angels, all dancing round him and trying to copy his duck walk. Chuck joked with them, and just got on with his set, he didn’t seem at all phased by what was going on. Chuck’s set was short, and he left to no encore and a hail of cans from the crowd. Brewer’s Droop came straight on and calmed the crowd down. We left in the early hours, as we didn’t fancy spending the night in the field with the Angels. We tried to walk to the main road, which was a long way. We got so far down a country road and were so tired that we lay down and slept on the steps of a house. When we awoke we were soaked and found ourselves lying in a puddle. We somehow managed to hitch home, getting back around Sunday evening. An experience never to repeated (thankfully). Having said that; reflecting on the event; I’m pleased I went. We saw some great bands and heard some amazing music that day. The ones that stick in my mind most are Edgar Broughton, and Alex Harvey, then Chuck Berry and Canned Heat. Great memories. 39 years is a long time ago.
Many thanks to Ian Johnson for sending me his photo of the event, which is of band Chopper, who I recall playing in 1974, and Ian is sure also played in 1973. What do others remember?
Edgar Broughton The Adelphi Hull 21 April 2012
Out Demons Out! Norm and I went to see Edgar Broughton at the Adelphi Hull last night. Edgar is performing solo these days, just him singing his new songs with an acoustic guitar; the set consists largely of material that he has written over the past few years. We set off for Hull around 5.30pm and arrived around 7.45pm, after an uneventful drive via the York ring road, and found the Adelphi surprisingly easily. We popped into Wetherspoons for a bite to eat, and then went along to the venue around 8.45pm. The Adelphi is a great little venue which sits in De Grey street, just off one of the main routes through Hull. It has been running for many years, and has hosted gigs by some famous names such as Oasis, Pulp and Radiohead. It was the first time we had visited the venue and we were both pleasantly surprised. Support came from local, Scarborough-based, one man band Joe Solo, who gave us a set of folk protest songs, passionately delivered. For his last song he gave everyone in the audience a small percussion instrument and the whole room played along with him. Joe told us that it was 20 years since he first played The Adelphi. Edgar took to the stage around 10pm, starting with Soldiers of the Light, which is a recent song about his relationship with his brother. He has a unique voice; dark and mournful. The rest of the set was drawn mainly from his latest album. I recognised several, having seen him perform in York last year, and it was good to hear them again. The set consisted of something like (although not in this order, and I will have missed some): This England; Ice on Fire; My Salvation; Christmas Song; Red Star; There’s a Hole in It and Evening Over Rooftops (from the Edgar Broughton band days). He finished with Arabesque / All Fall Down / Speak Down the Wires, which is an Indian-based chant. The encore was two songs, the first of which was The Poppy (“an early eco song we wrote in 1971”). No Out Demons Out to Norm’s disappointment. The crowd seemed to enjoy the set; Edgar is as passionate as ever, and the songs still have strong elements of protest and social conscience. We left around 11.15pm and were back home by 1.15am.
Edgar Broughton The Duchess York 18 Aug 2011
Edgar Broughton has been a hero of mine since I grew up with rock music in the late 60s and early 70s. I caught the Edgar Broughton Band live several times at festivals (Reading, Buxton) and locally (Sunderland Mecca, Newcastle City Hall). Edgar was always outspoken, passionate and totally committed to the alternative cause, and to be honest I found him somewhat scary onstage those days. Willy and I went to see the Broughton Band at Sheffield Boardwalk when they reunited a few years ago, and they hadn’t lost any of their power. Sadly I didn’t manage to make it over to the Spirit of 71 stage at Glastonbury (there was too much mud, and it was too far from our campsite), but I promised myself there and then that I would make up for it by going along to this show in York.
On Thursday night I saw a very different side to Edgar Broughton. The show had been billed as a special one-off performance entitled “Castaway”. Edgar had promised us, through his blog, that “it will be very different from what you might normally expect from me though it will include a lot of vintage material”.
This was my first visit to the Duchess, which is a great little venue right in the heart of the lovely city of York. I managed to find my way through the small windy streets and, after driving around a little to find a parking spot, took a seat towards the back of the venue. The crowd was small but attentive, comprising those of a similar advanced age, and with several Broughton Band t-shirts on show.
The stage was set with a single chair and two acoustic guitars. Edgar came onstage around 8.30pm and launched into some beautiful acoustic picking, which developed into a wailing chant-like song, setting the tone for the evening. Edgar explained to us that “many of my songs are dark, and I make no excuse for that”. The set was a mix of new songs, old Broughton band favourites, and a few poems. It was a great evening; something different; special and to be remembered. For Almost dancing Edgar used his Blackberry to provide the “tick tock” which accompanied the poem, and the droning backing for “a small psalm” was also provided by the same technology (which let him down and switched itself off a couple of times!). Red Star is a relatively new song written about the Brixton riots; Edgar explained how he had been singing it in a house in London as part of one of his Fair days pay for a fair days work shows, and as he left London was in flames and the riots had started. Green Lights sounded great with a simple arrangement and acoustic guitar. Soldiers of the Light was, explained Edgar, written for his brother Steve. Poppy, always a favourite of mine since I saw the Band play it in the early ’70s, closed the first set.
In the second half we all chanted a drone note while Edgar chanted on top. He explained that the Christmas song had been debuted at the Micky Jones (Man) benefit in Wales. Old favourites Evening over the Rooftops and Hotel Room were given the Edgar solo treatment; both sounding as fresh as they ever did. The show closed with a reprise of the dark chanting wail that had opened the show.
Everyone seemed to genuinely enjoy the evening, including our host, who thanked us for coming along to share the experience with him. He had planned to record the event; but had forgotten to give the recording gear to the sound guy!. I really enjoyed it, and was glad that I made the trip. I’d seen a different, gentler side of Edgar, somewhat removed from the fiery wild hairy guy in a karate suit of the early 70s. And no Out Demons Out; but that was fine because it wasn’t that sort of night. The angry challenging guy is still there and he is still (as he says on his site) “Hoping to do what I can – I lean to the left – aiming to do what is right”. The drive home was pretty uneventful, although it was teaming down with rain. I left the Duchess around 10.50pm and was back home around 12.30pm.
arabesque the re-mix > all fall down > speak down wires > almost dancing tick tock > a small psalm > red star > green lights > the god light pop (a reading from the instantanium) > soldiers of the light > there’s a hole in it > poppy
i want to lie (in a cool dark room) revisited > we chant > say you love me > christmas song > ice on fire > evening over the rooftops > my salvation > hotel room > six white horses > Arabesque and yoik
Edgar Broughton website
Edgar’s blog, including a poem which he performed on the evening
Link to the programme for the evening