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 ‘Joan Armatrading’ Category
Bob Dylan Blackbushe Aerodrome 1978
Support: Eric Clapton and Band, Joan Armatrading, Graham Parker and The Rumour, and Lake
Demand for Dylan’s run of concerts at Earls Court in 1978 was so high that a massive open air show was added. At first I wasn’t sure whether to go and see him again, but in the end I couldn’t resist going along. I travelled down on my own, but ran into a group of friends when I arrived at the gig. They had a spot pretty close to the front, so I joined them there. The attendance at this event was huge. I think it was something like 250,000 people. There were people everywhere. And the line up was very strong indeed. Dylan was supported by Eric Clapton and Band (I think Clapton also played with Dylan for part of the set?), Joan Armatrading, Graham Parker and The Rumour, and Lake. I don’t recall much about the supports, other than Clapton, who went down well with the crowd. It was a hot day, and a great atmosphere. Dylan performed a set which was similar to that he performed at Earls Court. I remember him wearing a top hat, and that there was a long wait before he took to the stage. The sound wasn’t too great, and if you were at the back of the arena, I suspect you will have seen very little, particularly as there were no screens. We were quite close to the front, and had a good view, so I really enjoyed the event. After the gig I spent hours in queues to get the train back across London, and start my journey home. I later learnt that my friend John had also gone down to the gig on his own, neither of us realising that the other was going. Setlist: My Back Pages (Instrumental); Love Her With A Feeling; Baby Stop Crying; Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues; Shelter From The Storm; It’s All Over Now Baby Blue; Girl From The North Country; Ballad Of A Thin Man; Maggie’s Farm; Simple Twist Of Fate; Like A Rolling Stone; I Shall Be Released; Is Your Love In Vain?; Where Are You Tonight?; A Change Is Gonna Come (Carolyn Dennis vocal); Mr. Tambourine Man (Helena Springs vocal); The Long And Winding Road (Jo Ann Harris vocal); What Would We Do If No One’s Dreams Came True? (Steven Soles vocal); Gates Of Eden; True Love Tends To Forget; One More Cup Of Coffee; Blowin’ In The Wind; I Want You; Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power); Masters Of War; Just Like A Woman; Ramona; Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright); All Along The Watchtower; All I Really Want To Do; It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding); Forever Young. Encores: Changing Of The Guards; The Times They Are A-Changin’
Joan Armatrading worked very hard at her craft in the early to mid 70s, supporting national tours by artists such as Supertramp, and gigging up and down the UK. She was one of those artists who popped up a lot as a support act, and at festivals, and her music grew on me over the years. I saw her at Newcastle City Hall once or twice in support slots, and also remember seeing her perform low down on the bill at the 1975 Reading Festival. In 1976 she had her fist hit with Love and Affection, and started to come more into the public eye. I first saw her headlining at the City Hall in 1977. By then her set featured some great songs, which were becoming well known to me, including the beautiful Willow and Down To Zero. Support for her 1977 tour came from the late Kim Beacon, a Scottish singer with a great blues/soul voice, who was once a member of String Driven thing. I next saw Joan on her 1980 UK tour. By this time she had moved from a jazz oriented style to a rockier pop sound, and had a hit with the single Me Myself I. Support for the 1980 tour was Richard Digance. Joan’s music continued to grew on me over the years, and each time I saw her she put on a strong, passionate performance, with some lovely ballads. I haven’t seen her in concert since those days, which is something I need to put right. Joan has released 17 studio albums, and received many awards and accolades over the years since she emerged in the 70s. I’ve read some reviews of recent concerts and they suggest that she is certainly still worth seeing. She’s coming to the Sage in Gateshead later this year. I really must take the time to go and see her.