The Reading Festival 23rd – 25th August 1974
This was my third visit to the Reading Festival; I felt I was a seasoned festival goer 🙂 . By now a large crew of local people were going to the festival, so there were lots of mates there, and we spent much of the weekend in the pubs in town, and down near the Caversham Bridge; particularly The Griffin. We would nip back to the festival site to catch the bands we wanted to see. The line-up in 1974 wasn’t particularly strong in comparison to the previous couple of years, and quite a few bands who had been advertised didn’t show (notably Eric Burdon, Ronnie Lane and Blodwyn Pig, all of whom I was looking forward to seeing). The Friday line-up was : Nutz, Johnny Mars, Hustler, Beckett, Camel, 10c, Fumble, Sensational Alex Harvey Band.
The first night of the festival saw the triumphant headlining return of the Alex Harvey band, who lived up to their name and were truly sensational. SAHB had appeared low down on the bill the previous year; there will have been many in the crowd who saw that performance, and knew how good they were. Johnny Mars and his Sunflower Blues Band gigged a lot in the early 70s; they played traditional blues; I remember seeing them at Sunderland Poly a few times; pretty good too. Fumble were a rock’roll revival band who also gigged a lot. Beckett were local North East heroes, featuring singer Terry Slesser. The SAHB setlist was something like this: Faith Healer; Midnight Moses; Can’t Get Enough; Give My Regards To Sergeant Fury; The Return of Vambo; The Man in the Jar; Money Honey; The Impossible Dream; Schools Out; Framed.
Saturday line-up: Jack the Lad, G T Moore and the Reggae Guitars, Trapeze, Sutherland Brothers, JSD Band, Procol Harum, Thin Lizzy, Long John Baldry, Heavy Metal Kids, Greenslade, Georgie Fame, Traffic.
Two bands stick in my mind from Saturday: Thin Lizzy who were excellent, and about to break through a year or so later, and Traffic. This was the classic Lizzy line-up featuring front-man Phil Lynott, the twin guitars of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson, and Brian Downey on drums; at the time of the Nightlife album; they were at the top of their game. Traffic were excellent. They had just released their album When the Eagle Flies, and their set at Reading featured a few songs from that album, plus some old classics. The line-up at the time was Steve Winwood (guitar, vocals, keyboards); Chris Wood (flute, sax); Jim Capaldi (drums, vocals); Rosko Gee (bass); Rebop (percussion). Stand-outs were Steve singing John Barleycorn, simple and beautiful with acoustic guitar, and Rebop’s congas and percussion throughout. I found a published setlist for Traffic, which shows they played: Empty Pages; Graveyard People; Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring; John Barleycorn; 40,000 Headmen; Love; When the Eagle Flies; Walking in the Wind; Dream Gerrard. I also have it in my mind that they performed Feelin’ Alright, but maybe that’s my memory playing tricks again. Also worthy of mention are Procol Harum (great version of Whiter Shade of Pale and a big success during the late afternoon), the late great Long John Baldry (excellent voice and a hero of mine), Heavy Metal Kids (the late Gary Holton as crazy and manic as ever), and Georgie Fame who seemed a bit out of place as part of the Saturday night line-up, but carried on the jazz and R’n’B tradition of the festival and went down pretty well.
Sunday Line-up: Gary Farr, Chilli Willi and the Red Hod Peppers, Esparanto, Strider, Barclay James Harvest, Chapman & Whitney Streetwalkers, Kevin Coyne, George Melly, Winkies, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, Harvey Andrews, Focus.
My main memories of the final day are of Steve Harley. Cockney Rebel had split a few months before the festival, and this one of Steve’s first appearances with his new band. They stole the show; appearing just as it was getting dark; the audience was with Steve from the start, and the performance was a triumph. Tumbling Down closed the set with a mass crowd singalong of “Oh dear, look what they’ve done to the blues, blues, blues”. It was clear that Steve was back, as cocky as ever; 1975 would bring him massive success with Make Me Smile.
I also remember watching Kevin Coyne (Marjory Razorblade), George Melly (a return after his success the previous year) and Focus who closed the show, and were also great, but seemed a little of anti-climax after Steve Harley’s performance.
DJs for the weekend were John Peel and Jerry Floyd. Oh and there were lots of cheers of “Wally”, “John Peels a c**t” (not sure how that one started), and a revolt at the prices of food in the arena, which resulted in a fish and chip van being trashed. Crazy, happy days.
Archive for the ‘Strider’ Category
The Buxton Festival 1974
Line-up: The Faces, Humble Pie, Mott The Hoople, Horslips , Chapman/Whitney StreetWalkers, Trapeze , Chopper, Badger, Strider, Lindisfarne, Man. My friend John and I have spent the week swapping memories of The Faces to help me write my blog. One memory that we share is of the 1974 Buxton Festival which we both attended. I’m not sure if it is a pleasant memory or not; and those of you who attended any of the outdoor Buxton events will know why I say that. Terry Battersby puts in well on the UK Festivals site: “I managed Buxton in 72/73/74.They should have been campaign medals issued”. I managed 73 and 74 and know what he means; I hold my medal with pride; the Buxton festivals were a real endurance test. Buxton is a town high up in the peak district and the festival was sited up on a moor. You couldn’t imagine a worse place to hold a pop festival. All of the three outdoor festivals (there were some indoor events which preceded them) suffered from poor weather, lots of wind and rain, and after 1974 the organisers abandoned the idea of holding any further festivals. I’ll write separately about the 1973 festival in a day or so, it was a strange event at which the Hells Angels took over and ran the event (which was pretty scary). Anyway, back to 1974. I drove down to Buxton with my friend Gilly, who also came to the 1973 event with me. We arrived on Friday afternoon, finding the place cold and windswept. Not being the most prepared festival-goers at the time, we didn’t have a tent and planned on sleeping in the car (not easy in an MG Midget), or in sleeping bags on the ground. When we arrived on the moor we saw lots of people building makeshift huts from planks of wood. I asked them where they found the wood, and they pointed me to a storehouse in the next field. So off I went to retrieve some wood for us to build our own shelter. I was leaving the store with some planks under my arm with a few other guys, when we were stopped by a policeman, who asked us where we were taking the wood. He quickly bundled us all into the back of a police jeep and took us off to a temporary police cabin which they had set up for the weekend. Once in their they searched us, took statements, and made us wait a few hours, telling us that we would probably be charged with theft for taking the wood. When they eventually did let us go we had to walk back to the site, where I found my mate Gilly lying asleep by the car. The bands had started by that point, and we went into the arena and caught as much of the show as we could. I remember seeing Man and Mott the Hoople that night. Mott started with Golden Age of Rock n Roll and were just great. I slept in the car and Gilly slept in a sleeping bag underneath the car. We were both frozen; it was truly awful. Highlights of the next day were Humble Pie (Stevie Marriott was awesome in those days and a big festival favourite), and Roger Chapman and the Streetwalkers. Anyone who was there will remember the magic moment in that dull rainy day when the sun came out during My Friend the Sun, as Roger sang “He’s there in the distance” to a great cheer from the crowd. The Faces were OK, but it wasn’t the best time I saw them; by this point they had added a horn section to the band. I remember keeping warm in the Release tent and chatting to Caroline Coon. My friend John was also there with a group of mates, although I don’t recall us running into each other. His memories: “My own recollections were that the weather was terrible,wet and cold,the facilities non existent and I slept in my dad’s car with three other mates. The Friday bands were good Mott , Man and Lindisarne. On Saturday there was the famous “My Friend the Sun moment” which I do recall and Humble pie were great.The Faces came on late and I remember the stage being pelted with bottles – reports on the Web said this is because they refused to play an encore…..those were the days!!!” Postcript: several weeks after the festival I received a letter summoning me to attend my local police station where I was issued with a formal caution for “stealing” the wood; and that was the last I heard of it. I did run into a couple of the lads who were in the jeep with me at Reading and Knebworth over the years and we always said hello. I wonder where they are now. Thanks to John for the ad showing the line-up for the festival. Note The New York Dolls were listed to play at one point (although they don’t appear in the listing above), but didn’t make it for some reason.
The Faces Newcastle Odeon November 26th 1974
Support from Strider and Bill Barclay Yesterday I blogged about two amazing Faces gig at Sunderland Top Rank and Sunderland Locarno. I saw the band quite a few other times in 1972 and 1973; twice at the Reading Festival in 72 and 73, at the Lincoln Festival in 72, and in 1974 at the Buxton festival. All of the gigs were great fun; the band were at the top of their game at the time. By 1974, however, cracks were starting to show. Ronnie Lane had left the band to be replaced by Tetsu Yamauchi, and it would only be a couple of years before the band disintegrated, Ronnie Wood joined the Stones and Rod went solo. The last time I saw the Faces was at a gig at Newcastle Odeon in late 1974. By this point the band were massive and they managed to sell out two nights. My mate Will and I bought tickets late for this gig and ended up with seats right up at the back of the rear circle, looking down on the stage. Not a great view, but we could look down and watch the place going crazy along with band. Support that night came from folkie comedian Bill Barclay and rockers Strider. The Faces were as fun as ever; lots of craziness and much singing along. They always finished with Twisting the Night Away at that time, and I can picture everyone walking down the stairs of the Odeon still singing along. A sadly missed band. I haven’t managed to get along to any of the Faces reunion shows so far, and Ronnie is busy with the Stones at the moment, which has delayed any plans for further gigs. I heard an interview with Rod on the radio the other day, and he said that he will join up with the Faces for a reunion after Ronnie is clear from Stones work. Hope that happens, and will do my best to attend if it does. The set that night in 1974 will probably have included: It’s All Over Now; Take A Look At The Guy; (I Know) I’m Losing You; Sweet Little Rock’n Roller; Bring It On Home To Me/You Send Me; I’d Rather Go Blind; Stay With Me; Angel; Too Bad/Every Picture Tells A Story; Maggie May; Gasoline Alley; You Can Make Me Dance, Sing Or Anything; You Wear It Well; Mine For Me; I Can Feel The Fire; Twistin’ The Night Away.