Archive for the ‘Monty Pythons Flying Circus’ Category

Monty Python Live (mostly) O2 Arena London 16th July 2014

Monty Python Live (mostly) O2 Arena London 16th July 2014
montypythontix“Knotted hankies at the ready: it’s Monty Python’s historic last stand live at London’s O2 Arena. It’s been more than three decades since they last appeared on stage together for a Hollywood Bowl show. But now surviving Pythons John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin – combined age: 357! – are dusting down those classic comedy routines for their final farewell.” John Cleese said: “The response to our planned reunion has been very, very silly. But, we’re all touched that so many fans still want to see such old people perform.”
Monty Python was part of my growing up. For me it means the early sketches like The Lumberjack song, the albatross, dead parrot, silly walks, nudge nudge, and the argument. The later series are less familiar. So David and I were two of the 200,000 people who made the trip to the 02 arena to see the guys perform for one last time. This was the 7th night of a massively successful 10 night run. The show works well, incorporating all of the old routines, as you would expect, and with the “female Python” Carol Cleveland joining in the fun with her old workmates. John Cleese forgetting his lines, and not being able to stop himself laughing only added to our fun. Of course the remaining Pythons look, and are, a lot older than when I last saw them perform at the Lincoln festival 42 years ago, and some of the routines seem quite dated, but seeing it all together presented in one show, reminded me of just how ground-breaking it was at the time. imageYes there are parts that don’t quite work today, and I wasn’t too keen on some of the more theatrical Spamalot type dance routines, but the use of the original video, the recreation of the famous sketches, and the tributes to Graham Chapman all work, and overall this is a great show.
Set 1: Llamas; Liberty Bell March; Four Yorkshiremen; Penis Song (Not the Noel Coward Song); Naval Medley; Batley Townswomens’ Guild presents the Battle of Pearl Harbor; The Last Supper; Every Sperm Is Sacred; Mr. and Mrs. Blackitt; Silly Olympics (Video); Vocational Guidance Counseller; Lumberjack Song; International Philosophy (Video); Bruces’ Philosophers Song; Crunchy Frog; The Man Who Speaks in Anagrams; I Like Chinese.
Set 2: Spam Lake; Sit on My Face; Death of Mary Queen of Scots; Penguin on the TV; Gumby Flower Arranging; Camp Judges; Albatross; Nudge Nudge; Blackmail; Anne Elk; Spanish Inquisition; The Galaxy Song; Silly Walk Song; The Argument Sketch; I’ve Got Two Legs; Spam; Dead Parrot; Cheese Shop; Christmas in Heaven.
Encore: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

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Pink Floyd at the Knebworth Festival. Knebworth Park, 5th July 1975

Pink Floyd at the Knebworth Festival. Knebworth Park, 5th July 1975
Line-up: Pink Floyd; Steve Miller Band; Captain Beefheart; Roy Harper and Trigger; Linda Lewis; Graham Chapman (Monty Python); DJ’s John Peel & Pete Drummond.800px-Knebworth_House_-_Flickr_-_foshieThis was my second visit to Knebworth, after seeing the Allman Brothers headline at the first festival in 1974. A group of mates had organised a coach to take us down there; it left on the Friday night (after closing time of course) from outside the Londonderry pub and got us to the site in the early hours of Saturday morning. The line-up for the day was pretty strong, but we were all there to see the Floyd play Dark Side of the Moon. Attendance was much higher than the previous year, there seemed to be a lot of people there. Ticket price was a bargain at £2.75 (one day I really must try to do a comparison with today’s prices). Linda Lewis opened the day and was her usual chirpy self; a great start to the festivities. Jesus was dancing down the front. Monty Python’s Graham Chapman kept popping up to entertain us between bands, although some of his humour was lost in the vast space between stage and crowd. Peel was DJ for the day (as was the norm for festivals in those days) along with Pete Drummond. floydknebprogNext up was Roy Harper, a favourite of mine whose set was in two parts; the first featuring Roy playing acoustically with a small orchestra conducted by David Bedford. He then strapped on his electric guitar and was joined by his band Trigger which featured Chris Spedding on guitar (ex Jack Bruce band, and soon to be solo star with “Mororbikin'” 🙂 ), Dave Cochrane on bass and Bill Bruford on drums (ex Yes and King Crimson). Roy had a chat with us all, as he always did, and played some great songs including the classic “Another Day”. The late great and magnificent Captain Beefheart booglarised us, confusing some of the audience who just thought he was weird (which of course he was, but he was also excellent). Steve Miller was next. We’d all heard the classic song “The Joker” of course, but looking at published setlists of his performance that day, it seems that he didn’t play it (which I find hard to believe, bet we were disappointed); to be honest I don’t recall much about his set. There was then a long wait before Floyd came on. Soon two spitfires were flying overhead to herald Floyd’s arrival on stage. The show was similar to that which I had seen at Newcastle Odeon a year previously; they had their large circular screen, and the first half of their set featured new songs which would ultimately appear on Wish You Were Here and Animals. The second half was Dark Side of the Moon, with Echoes as the encore. floydknebtixJust before the start of Dark Side of the Moon a plane flew down over the crowd (travelling down a wire from the lighting tower) and crashed into the stage. And then came the familiar opening voice “I’ve been mad for f***ing years, absolutely years…..” and the haunting laughter….and we were off, witnessing the last performance of DSOTM by the Floyd with Roger Waters. It would be another 30 years until I saw this line-up play some of it again at Live 8 in Hyde Park; but that’s a story for a few days time. The sound wasn’t great from where we were sitting, but it was amazing to see them perform their classic album in a field on a cool summer’s evening. Echoes was the perfect closer for the day. Then it was out of the field through the crowds and campsites (and chants of “Wally”) and back on bus, and up the A1. Actually I think we were missing one guy, and had to wait a little before the driver decided he would leave without him. We then saw the guy hitching at the side of the road and picked him up. We were back in the early hours of Sunday morning, tired but with the sound of Echoes still running through our heads.
My friends John and Susan were also on the coach. Susan’s memories of the day: I don’t remember very much about the acts apart from Pink Floyd and I think that was because I was so thankful that it meant the festival was almost over! I remember the day as sitting on a blanket in a damp field amongst thousands of people (and a few small dogs), with mist and drizzle falling pretty much all day, being absolutely starving and having to use the most horrendous bathroom facilities I had ever encountered. I remember being terrified that we would miss the bus home, and I have never been so thankful as I was to see the Toll Bar on that Sunday morning!
Setlist: Raving and Drooling (Sheep); You’ve got to be Crazy (Dogs); Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1 to 5); Have a Cigar (with Roy Harper); Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 6 to 9); Speak to Me; Breathe; On the Run; Time; Breathe (Reprise); The Great Gig in the Sky; Money; Us and Them; Any Colour You Like; Brain Damage; Eclipse. Encore: Echoes. The image of Knebworth House is reproduced here through the permissions of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Joe Cocker and many others Great Western Festival Lincoln 1972

Joe Cocker and many others Great Western Express Festival Lincoln May Bank holiday weekend 1972
I was 15 at the time and so excited about going to a real pop festival. My dad drove me and a couple of mates down on the Friday night, after we’d been to the local Mecca ballroom. We arrived in the early hours of Saturday morning, having missed the Friday night bands, and slept in a big crash tent for a few hours. We soon ran into a group of other lads who had also come down from Sunderland, and between us we built a cabin out of bails of hay and planks of wood which were lying around in the fields. I swear there were around 20 of us sleeping in there. We were quite close to the stage, and I pretty much stayed in that cabin all weekend. We could also stand on the roof and watch the bands. There was a massive (and very empty) press enclosure which divided the crowd from the stage, so no-one could get that close, which was bad planning. The weather was wet, with rain for most of the weekend. But I didn’t care; this was a real pop festival, and I was determined to enjoy every minute. The line-up for the remaining three days of the event was really strong. I’ll try and recall as much as I can.
Saturday. Nazareth opened the day around noon. I remember them playing Morning Dew, and thinking that they were ok. They were followed by Locomotive GT, Roxy Music who were playing their first major gig and Heads, Hands and Feet, featuring the great Albert Lee, who I remember playing “Warming up the band”. The first band I have strong memories of was Wishbone Ash. They hd just released “Argus” and their set consisted of all the classic Ash songs: Time Was, Blowin’ Free, Jailbait, The King Will Come, Phoenix etc. They were just wonderful at that time. Helen Reddy did not perform, and was replaced by Rory Gallagher, who had stayed on from the Friday to play again, as I understand his Friday set was cut short because of the weather. The Strawbs featured the classic Cousins/Hudson/Ford line-up at the time. This was before any of the hits. Pretty sure they played “The Hangman and the Papist” and “The Man who called himself Jesus”. Stone The Crows were next up. This was their first performance after Les Harvey’s death, and Steve Howe from Yes stood in on guitar. Maggie Bell’s performance was highly emotional and the crowd gave her the strongest reception of the day, sensing how real the blues was to her that night, coming only a few weeks after she had lost her boyfriend. Rod Stewart and The Faces closed Saturday night. I remember Rod wearing a silver lame jacket and that they were pretty ramshackle, but good.
Sunday. The Natural Acoustic Band started the day, followed by Focus who warmed the crowd up with Sylvia, and Brewers Droop who were a raunchy boogie band who popped up at a few festivals in those days. Spencer Davis played with his new band, which was heavy on steel guitar and country oriented, followed by The Incredible String Band. Lindisfarne were the first band to get the crowd going and were a big hit of the weekend. We were all on the roof of our cabin, singing along to Fog on the Tyne. Average White Band were followed by The Persuasions who were an a cappella soul band, and were impressive. The next big hit of the day were Slade, who just tore the place apart. They started this performance with a lot to prove to a “Hippy” crowd, who viewed slade as a pop act. By the end of the performance everyone was singing along and converted. They were just great. Monty Python’s Flying Circus, with the entire cast, did all their great sketches: Dead Parrot, Lumberjack Song, Argument; great fun. The Beach Boys closed the evening and were wonderful singing all the hits. Great end to a great day.
Monday. The morning featured some folk acts, who had been moved to the main stage because the folk tent had been damaged by the weather. I remember Jonathan Kelly performing and singing “Ballad of Cursed Anna” which is a favourite of mine to this day. Jackson Heights, featuring Lee Jackson from the Nice started the main part of the day off, followed by Atomic Rooster, Vincent Crane collapsing (as he normally did) during Gershatzer. Vinegar Joe with Elkie Brooks and Robert Palmer were next up, followed by the Sutherland Brothers. The next two bands were both up and coming at the time: Genesis and Status Quo. They were both festival favourites, Peter Gabriel with his shaved forehead, telling those great stories to introduce beautiful songs such as Musical Box, and Quo were still trying to establish themselves as a proper rock band and shake off the pop image, which they were doing very well with tracks such as Someones Learning and Is It Really Me? Don McLean sang American Pie and the rain stopped for him. Humble Pie were something else. Steve Marriott was at the top of his game and was fully into his “My skin is white but my soul is black” routine. I Don’t Need No Doctor!! Just great. Sha Na Na, still featuring in all our minds from the Woodstock movie, had us all singing along. Joe Cocker closed the festival. He came on very late as I recall. There was a long wait and he took to the stage in the early hours of the morning. I remember him singing The Letter and Cry Me a River. He was good, but I was tired and cold by that time. All my mates had gone to sleep.
Other memories of the weekend. A large black and white screen above the stage, which worked some of the time. They showed movies on it throughout the night. I watched Marlon Brando in The Wild One, which was banned in the UK (!) at the time. Lots of chants of Wally. People openly selling dope with price lists on their tents. Hari Krishna’s giving out free food. A straw fight during (I think) Lindisfarne’s set. Everyone around me had also been to the Bickershaw festival a couple of weeks before, and were taking about how great The Grateful Dead and Captain Beefheart were. I was dead jealous.
I caught the train back on Tuesday. My mates variously hitched and scored lifts. I arrived home tired, unwashed, and determined to go to as many festivals as I could in the future, which I sort of stuck to for the remainder of the 70s.