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 ‘Kokomo’ Category
Hyde Park free concert August 31st 1974
Line-up: Roger McGuinn, Roy Harper and Friends, Julie Felix, Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers, Kokomo, Toots and The Maytals.
I’d just got back from the Reading festival, which was headlined by Traffic and Alex Harvey, a few days earlier, and quite fancied going to another open air event. My mate Will was up for going to this free Hyde Park concert on Saturday, so we decided to hitch down to London after going to the local Mecca ballroom on Friday night. Around midnight we hitched a lift to the A1 at Durham and started to make our way down south. It took us all night to get down to London, but we made it by early morning. We had some crazy lifts along the way, including one in the back of an army jeep driven by a couple of squaddies who took a dislike to us (we jumped out of the jeep at a service station and started to hitch again), and another with a guy who was totally spaced out of his brain (he told us he had been taking acid) and was speeding through the centre of some strange town (I think it may have been Nottingham) driving through red lights and singing at the top of his voice. Our last lift was from a kind old couple who gave us something to eat and took us into London. When we arrived we took the tube out to Wembley so that I could buy tickets for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young who were appearing at Wembley Stadium a couple of weeks later. We then went to Hyde Park for the concert, where we ran into a few other boys we knew from the town. I don’t remember much about the first few acts, but do remember being impressed by Julie Felix. Her set featured the excellent Ollie Halsall from Patto on guitar, and we all sang along to Going to the Zoo. There was much anticipation for Roy Harper’s set that day, and much speculation about exactly who might be guesting with him. Roy came on stage late on the afternoon and introduced his friends for the day: Dave Gilmour on guitar, John Paul Jones on bass, and Steve Broughton on drums. A recording of the epic Harper song The Game exists from the concert, with some great guitar work from Gilmour. My memory is a little hazy (it is almost 40 years….) and I don’t recall exactly what else was played, although I think Roy performed I Hate the White Man, but I do remember it being a great set. Roger McGuinn was headlining and played a set of classic Byrds songs. We left before the end of his set to get to the motorway before the rest of the crowds, and took the tube to Hendon to pick up the M1 junction and hitch back up north. Our journey back home took ages. We managed to get back to the A1(M) Bishop Auckland turn-off by Sunday afternoon and stood for hours without so much as a sniff of a lift. So we walked into Bishop Auckland to see if we could get a bus home. Sadly we’d missed the last bus and had hardly any money anyway so we decided to try to walk home. We popped into a pub somewhere near Spennymoor for a glass of water (as we didn’t have enough for a drink) only to find a group of guys from Sunderland in the back room. I have never been happier to see some familiar faces; they gave us a lift home at closing time! So we arrived back home some 48 hours after we set off, having had no sleep at all, and very hungry. The crazy things you do when you are young. Still I’m pleased I went to this event; it was good to see Roy. I have a copy of the recording of the Game from that day. Its pretty rough, but brings back some great memories when I play it. Happy days.
Average White Band 1976 and 1980
PIck Up The Pieces! The Average White Band were great favourites of some of my mates in the 70s. Their blend of funk and rock would fill the dance floor in discos. I saw them in concert a couple of times, at Newcastle City Hall in 1976 and again in 1980. I remember that as a tight rock/jazz outfit, great at what they did, but to be honest they were never really by cup of tea. I went to see them along with friends who were more into them than me. The Average White Band split up in 1982 but regrouped after some years and are still playing today. They played recently at the Royal Glasgow Concert Hall as part of the Celtic Connections festival. Looking back through the programmes, which are pictured here, from those gigs did bring back some memories. The support act on one of those tours, I owuld think 1976, was Kokomo. Now there was a band, who are all but forgotten now, and much under-rated. Their blend of soul and funk was much more to my liking. Kokomo drew its musicians from a number of UK bands including The Grease Band, Arrival, and King Crimson. I recall seeing Kokomo quite a few times: a great gig in Newcastle Poly and at the Reading Festival, but can’t recall any of their songs. I must try and find one of their lps.Bands like Average White Band and Kokomo represent a particular time and period to me; in fact I’d almost forgotten them. I’m finding the exercise of working through my programme and ticket collection very interesting. Its bringing back old memories, and reminding me of bands and times that I had forgotten. Its taking longer than I thought, however; I’m working through them, at least in part, alphabetically, and I haven’t yet completed the letter A…..