The Reading Festival 24th – 26th August 1973
August 1973 and I was back at the Reading Festival. This year I hooked up with a large group of mates from town who had traveled down in a Transit van. I discovered Reading town centre, and the local pubs for the first time this year, and as a result missed some of the bands. The line-up was pretty mixed, with a clear attempt to become international; featuring bands from France, Italy and the USA, and also retaining jazz elements with appearances by Chris Barber and George Melly (who was great and a surprise success).
Friday line-up: Embryo (Germany), Alquin (Holland), Stray Dog (USA), Greenslade, Capability Brown, Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen (USA), Jo’Burg Hawk (South Africa), Rory Gallagher. The successes of the day were Commander Cody and of course Rory, who was just amazing. This was classic Rory at his best: Messin’ With the Kid; Laundromat; Walk on Hot Coals; Pistol Slapper Blues; Going to My Home Town; and Bullfrog Blues. The crowd loved him. Capability Brown grew out of the ’60s band Harmony Grass; prog rock with great harmonies. The other thing I discovered was the bridge over the Thames, and we spent many an hour watching people dive off and down into the river (which seemed crazy and dangerous to me).
Saturday line-up: Dave Ellis, Clare Hamill, Tasavallan Presidentti (Finland), Riff Raff, Fumble, Magma (France), Lindisfarne (Mk II), Chris Barber band, Status Quo, Sensation Alex Harvey Band, Strider, Andy Bown, The Faces.
My memories of the Saturday are of Status Quo going down a storm, and the Faces being OK, but the real success of the day being the Sensation Alex Harvey Band. SAHB were just about to release “Next”; I think they started the set with “Faith Healer” which sounded incredible, the intro throbbing across the field. Alex was electric and made a lot of new friends that day. The Faces set was nowhere near as strong as the previous year. This was one of their first gigs after Ronnie Lane had been replaced by Tetsu (who was great by the way); you could sense that the band were losing their enthusiasm and a Rod would soon be on his way. Lots of footballs into the crowd again. Oh and Jesus dancing naked during the afternoon. I don’t recall Andy Bown’s set and didn’t know much about him at the time, other than he was in The Herd with Peter Frampton. I do remember being surprised as how high up on the bill he was. I think this was where he made friends with Quo; he joined them shortly afterwards on keyboards. Fumble were a rock’n’roll revival band who played a lot of gigs at the time; I recall seeing them several times at local student union dances.
Sunday line-up: Aj Webber, John Martyn and Danny Thompson, Ange (France), Tim Hardin and Lesley Duncan with the Tim Horovitz Orchestra, PFM (Italy), Jack the Lad, Medicine Head, Stackridge, George Melly and the Feetwarmers, Jon Hiseman’s Tempest, Mahatma, Jimmy Witherspoon (USA), Spencer Davis, Genesis. I think Roy Buchanan may have played also; he was advertised in early flyers, but doesn’t feature in the programme; I think I recall watching him. The stand-outs on Sunday were (surprisingly) George Melly who wore an incredibly sharp suit and totally engaged the crowd with his crazy jazz campness, and of course Genesis, with Peter Gabriel appearing with a strange pyramid arrangement on his head. Stackridge were good as always (Slark still a favourite of mine); Spencer Davis played all the hits, and had a great band featuring Charlie McCracken, Pete York, Ray Fenwick and Eddie Hardin. Tim Hardin sang his beautiful moving songs (If I was a Carpenter, Reason to Believe) and John Martyn went down well in his early slot, accompanied by the excellent Danny Thompson on double bass. The weather was pretty good as I recall, I don’t think we got much, if any, rain. Not one of the strongest Reading line-ups, but still a good weekend of music and fun, with excellent performances by Rory, George Melly, Alex Harvey, Quo and Genesis. Thanks to Ben Sutherland for making his photograph of the Reading Bridge available through WikiMedia Commons. The programme was once again produced by the local newspaper and cost all of 10p 🙂 . The poster of the Faces comes from the centrepages of the programme.
Archive for the ‘Tim Hardin’ Category
The Reading Festival 24th – 26th August 1973
Tim Hardin Sunderland Empire Sat 19th April 1975
Special guests City Waites I can’t pretend that I knew much about Tim Hardin before I went to see him at Sunderland Empire. I knew he was a legendary figure and hey he was playing in my home town, so a friend and I went along to the concert. Support came from the City Waites, who specialise in traditional “English music of the 16th and 17th centuries from the street, tavern, theatre and countryside – the music of the common man”, and are still playing to this day. I am so glad that I got to see Tim Hardin. The concert was superb. It was just Tim sitting with an acoustic guitar singing those classic songs. I think he may have been accompanied by a double bass player (Danny Thompson is in my mind, but that could be my memory playing tricks again). I was pleasantly surprised to recognise quite a few of his songs that night: How Can We Hang On To A Dream, which I had seen the Nice perform at the same venue some years earlier; If I Were A Carpenter, I knew the Four Tops hit, and had also seen Stan Webb play an excellent version with Chicken Shack several times; Reason to Believe, which I knew from the Rod Stewart version; and Lady Came From Baltimore, the Scott Walker version was most familiar to me. A great concert by a true genius. How Can We Hang On To A Dream remains one of my favourite songs to this day. Tim Hardin suffered from a drug habit in his later years, and sadly died of a heroin overdose on December 29th 1980, just a few days after his 39th birthday. A tragic loss. Postscript. I found a ticket from the Empire which shows a date of Sun 20 April, while the flyer lists the show as being on Sat 19th April. I can’t be certain that this is my ticket for this particular gig, as (annoyingly) the Empire didn’t list the artist on the ticket at that time. The price looks right, as the flyer lists the price in the stalls as 50p and 60p, and my ticket is 60p for the front stalls. I suspect that this is the correct ticket and the show was moved by one day. I recall being quite close to the front, which would also fit (my ticket shows row E).