Archive for the ‘Spirit’ Category

The Reading Rock Festival 25 – 27th August 1978

The Reading Rock Festival 25 – 27th August 1978
readingprog1 This was the year punk finally arrived. The festival was now officially known as the Reading Rock Festival, having dropped “jazz” from the title and the line-up, and weekend tickets cost all of £8.95. Our old friend John Peel was compere, as always, and a van load of us descended on the riverside site, having driven part of the way down on Thursday, gone for a drink in Wetherby and slept on Wetherby racecourse (the crazy things you do when you are young 🙂 ) Highlights of the weekend for me were Penetration (I was a big fan at the time), Sham 69, The Jam, Status Quo (most of our group were heavily into them) and Patti Smith.
Friday line-up: Dennis O’Brien; The Automatics; New Hearts (who would become mods and change their name to Secret Affair); Radio Stars; Penetration; Sham 69; The Pirates; Ultravox; The Jam.
Memories: Radio Stars were always good for a laugh; “Dirty Pictures” (turn me on) was a favourite at the time; it was great to see local north east punk heroes playing up on the massive Reading stage Penetration, although they suffered from murky sound throughout their set; The Pirates rocked the place with no-nonsense rock’n’roll, “Shaking All Over” and ace guitarist the late Mick Green (a big influence on Wilko); and the John Foxx version of Ultravox! played a quite moody atmospheric electronic set. The main event was Sham 69, who were excellent with Jimmy Pursey his usual cockney “boy on the streets” self, and those anthems “What have we got?”, “Borstal Breakout” and “If the Kids are United”. The Sham Army had come across to Reading in force, all braces, No 2 cuts, and Doc Martins, and ready to take on those hippies. We were right at the front, although we soon moved to the side of the crowd when the fights started. A bunch of skins climbed on to the stage, and Pursey tried to call order, pleading with the crowd to stop fighting to no avail. He was in tears, watching bedlam and violence all around him, and not being able to do anything to stop it. But that was the nature of a Sham gig at the time. Jimmy even brought Steve Hillage on stage to show that it was ok to mix with hippies, but that just annoyed the skins more. A nasty, frightening experience, which marred an excellent performance by Sham. The Jam were great, Weller the edgy young mod, getting himself into a strop at the poor sound quality, and trashing his gear. Punk really had arrived at Reading.
The Jam set included: Mr Clean ; Away From the Numbers; Don’t Tell Them You’re Sane; Tonight at Noon; David Watts; Down in the Tube Station at Midnight; “A” Bomb in Wardour Street; News of the World
Saturday line-up: Speedometors; The Business; Jenny Darren; Next; Gruppo Sportivo; Nutz; Greg Kihn Band; Lindisfarne; Spirit; The Motors; Status Quo.
readingprog2Saturday was a little more straightforward rock. Lindisfarne had recently reunited and hit the charts with “Run For Home”. The Motors were OK (Airport!). Spirit were excellent, with great Hendrix-style guitar from Randy California. Status Quo played a solid respectable set, nothing earth shattering. I know quite a few people were disappointed with them that night, but I thought they were OK. “Dirty Water’ was to become a crowd singalong favourite.
Status Quo setlist: Caroline; Roll Over Lay Down; Backwater; Rockers Rollin; Is There A Better Way; You Don’t Own Me; Hold You Back; Rockin All Over The World; Dirty Water; 4500 Times; Big Fat Mama; Don’t Waste My Time; Roadhouse Blues; Rain; Down Down; Bye Bye Johnny.
Sunday line-up: After The Fire; Chelsea; Pacific Eardrum; Bethnal; Squeeze; John Otway; The Albion Band; Paul Inder; Ian Gillan Band; Tom Robinson Band; Foreigner; Patti Smith Group.
Memories: Paul Inder is Lemmy’s son and was 11 years old (!) at the time; what a great thing to do when you are 11 🙂 ; Bethnal were a good band, who had a manic violin player; Squeeze were fun; Otway was as crazy as ever (Really Free); Tom Robinson led a mass singalong of “Glad to be Gay”; and Foreigner went down well with the crowd. But the day belonged to Patti Smith who was amazing. I was a big fan and left my mates to push my way right to the front of the crowd for Patti’s set. She had the whole crowd with her as she tore into “Gloria”, “Because the Night” and great covers of the Byrds’ “So You Want to Be (A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star)” and the Who’s “My Generation”. Stunning. I saw her again at Newcastle City Hall two days later and she was equally as electric.
Patti Smith setlist: Rock n Roll Nigger; Privilege (Set Me Free); Redondo Beach; Free Money; Ghost Dance; It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World; So You Want to Be (A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star); Ask the Angels; 25th Floor; Because the Night; Gloria, You Light Up My Life; My Generation; Godspeed

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Spirit Reading Festival August 1978 and Newcastle Mayfair 31st July 1981

Spirit Reading Festival August 1978 and Newcastle Mayfair 31st July 1981
spiritpeogMy first memories of Spirit are of hearing the track “Fresh Garbage” on the excellent 1968 CBS sample lp “The Rock Machine Turns You On”. The song is quite strange with a psychedelic feel to inn, and some disconcerting changes of tempo. The next time I ran into the band was when I saw them live at Reading Festival in 1978. By this time Spirit were a three-piece featuring front man Randy California on (amazing) guitar, vocals and Moog, Ed Cassidy on drums and Larry “Fuzzy” Knight on bass. California was an awesome guitarist and a big Hendrix fan, and the set comprised a few Hendrix covers (“Hey Joe”, “All Along the Watchtower” and “Wild Thing”) along with some Spirit classics (“Mr Skin”, “Nature’s Way”). Ed Cassidy was a power house drummer, and was also Randy’s step-father. He was much older than the other two guys, and will have been 55 at the time of the Reading gig. Spirit played between Lindisfarne and The Motors, on the early Saturday evening. Status Quo headlined the Saturday night, playing after The Motors. Spirit played a storming set, and got a good reaction from the crowd.
Setlist from Reading: Hey Joe; Looking Down; Animal Zoo; Mr Skin; All Along The Watchtower; Wild Thing; Nature’s Way; Like A Rolling Stone; My imagination.
spiritcomic2I saw Spirit once more, at a gig at Newcastle Mayfair in 1981. I think I also saw Randy California supporting Ian Gillan at the Mayfair in 1979. The 1981 tour was to promote the Potato Land album. The album, whose full title is “The Adventures of Kaptain Kopter & Commander Cassidy in Potato Land” (I assume Randy California ia Kaptain Kopter), was originally recorded by Randy California and Ed Cassidy during 1973/74. A concept album, interspersed with dialogue, it was not released until 1981 through Line Records. The line-up of the band at the Mayfair was California, Cassidy, Liberty on bass and George Valuck on keyboards. spiritcomic1The ballroom was half-full, and the set was similar to the Reading set, mixing Hendrix material, with old Spirit songs, and a few from the Potato land story. The programme contains a comic featuring the Adventures of Kaptain Kopter and Commander Cassidy in Potato Land complete with great graphics and a blank page on which you were invited to “Draw your own Potato Man”. I also seem to remember buying a badge which had a picture of a potato man on it, but I’m not sure what happened to it.