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 ‘Lloyd Watson’ Category
The Reading Festival 27 – 29 August 1976
King Crimson Newcastle Odeon 8th December 1972
My memory has been playing tricks with me again. I was convinced that I saw King Crimson in 1974, around the time of the “Red” album. But no, when I checked, I found that I was wrong again, as I often am these days. The concert that I saw took place on Friday 8th December 1972, when Robert Fripp and his mighty band played at Newcastle Odeon, not that long before the release of their fifth album “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic”. This was the one and only time that I saw King Crimson in concert, and I went with my friend John. Support came from Lloyd Watson who I have blogged on separately, as John and I went to see him playing in a pub in Peterborough a few years ago. Lloyd won the solo category of the Melody Maker competition in 1972, appeared on “The Old Grey Whistle Test” and did two British tours, one supporting King Crimson and the other Roxy Music.
I went along to the Odeon that night with tunes from Crimson’s glorious first album running through my head, hoping to hear songs like “In the Court of the Crimson King” and “Epitaph”. Of course, the band didn’t play either of those tunes. I should have expected that, as the line-up of King Crimson had changed completely (apart from main man Robert Fripp) just prior to the tour. The line-up for the late 1972 UK tour was: leader Robert Fripp on guitar; John Wetton, fresh from Family and now coming to the fore on vocals and bass; Bill Bruford, who had just left Yes, on drums, David Cross on violin, flute, and keyboards; and Jamie Muir on percussion. Newcastle Odeon was a massive venue which was far from full for this gig, and John and I claimed some empty seats, which were much closer to the front than the cheap (60p! bargain :)) rear stalls tickets we had bought. The show was not what I expected. It was much more improvisation, and jazz, than rock. King Crimson started with a long instrumental track featuring Cross on violin and Muir on percussion which, based on setlists from the period, must have been “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (Part 1)”. Fripp remained seated throughout the performance, speaking to the audience only to announce the songs at one point. John Wetton handled the vocals on those songs that had any. But the guy who sticks in my memory from this concert is Jamie Muir. Muir came from a free improvisation background and “contributed an assortment of unusual sounds from a wide variety of percussion instruments, including chimes, bells, thumb piano, mbiras, a musical saw, shakers, rattles, found objects, and miscellaneous drums” (from Wikipedia). His performance that evening was just incredible. The only familiar song was “21st Century Schizoid Man”, which was was the final track and was loud, dark and very heavy. Overall I left the gig unsure as to what I had just witnessed. I found it pretty heavy going at the time. The set consisted of the entire “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic” album (which had not yet been released, so the material was all new and unfamiliar to the audience), closer “Schizoid Man”, and some free improvisation numbers. I’ve just googled and found a live recording on YouTube of a gig at Hull Technical College around the same time. I listened to some of it, and it sounds great! This concert is another one that seems much better on reflection than I probably realised at the time (if that makes any sense :)). And its also another concert which I would love to go back in time to, and experience all over again. Setlist from the Hull Technical College recording: Walk On… No Pussyfooting; Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (Part I); Book of Saturday; Robert Fripp announces the songs to be played; Improvisation: Vista Training College Under Spot Light; Exiles; Easy Money; Improvisation: Fallen Angel Hullabaloo; The Talking Drum; Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (Part II); 21st Century Schizoid Man. I am pretty sure that the Newcastle performance was a similar set. King Crimson are another band on my ever growing list of bands to see again (if, of course, Fripp ever decides to reform the band).
The Roundhead, Bretton, Peterborough May 17 2008
My friend John lives in the States now and comes over once or twice a year. We try and meet up and go to a gig if we possibly can. This time John fancied going along to see Lloyd Watson, a guitarist who we had both seen supporting King Crimson at Newcastle Odeon around 1974. John could remember more about Lloyd than I could (my memory is really getting quite bad these days); I checked him out on his website; he’d been a winner of the Melody Maker contest in the 70s and had also played with Eno and was a member of 801, a Roxy Music spin-off band, who I’d seen at the Reading festival in the late 70s.
So I pick John up on the Saturday and we make the 200 mile drive down to Bretton which is just outside Peterborough. We find the venue, a pub called the Roundhead quite easily, its at the side of a shopping area. We go off for a bite to eat before the show, and return later.
When we get into the Roundhead, Lloyd comes up and says hello (I have been in touch with earlier to get directions) and seems quite pleased to see us. He’s billed these days as playing “exceptional blues and demon guitar playing” and he certainly lives up to that. He has a unique technique which sees him running both hands up the neck of the guitar and squeezes some pretty amazing sounds out of his strat. His set is mainly covers including Albatross and Layla. The crowd are pretty enthsuiastic and seem to consist mainly of regulars who obviously know Lloyd. Good to see him again after all these years; do go along and see him if you are in the area.
check out Lloyd’s site: http://www.lloydwatsonmusic.co.uk/
801 band Wiki entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/801_(band)