Text Of Festival (3)

More from planet noise....

Gig no.51 - 4/08/79 - Led Zeppelin at Knebworth
The first of two shows by the biggest band in the world throughout most of the 70s found us hightailing it once more to deepest Hertfordshire. We were about 50 yards from the front and part of a massive crowd of over 200000 according to Zep's behemoth of a manager, or just over 100000 according to the promoter - the resulting dispute over ticket sales eventually bankrupted the promoter. Peter Grant was not to be messed with! Whatever the actual crowd numbers it was HUGE, as was the stage. I cannot remember anything about the support bands, but according to my list I gave Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes (a poor man's Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band) 8 out of 10. However I can recall Zep belting out a storming version of Kashmir immediately followed by the proto metal-funk of Trampled Underfoot, and they played my fave song Ten Years Gone too. I also remember having to brave the "washroom facilities" during Stairway To Heaven, and not being able to relocate my mates until the end of the concert when I found the car (the pre-arranged meet point in the event of getting split up) half an hour before they did. Just proves that life was indeed possible before mobile phones. "Where are you? I'm lost"...."See you at the car then"....and we worked that out just by using common sense!
The band played another show at the same venue a week later, which turned out to be their last in the UK before the untimely but not entirely unexpected death of mad, bad and dangerous to know John Bonham, which spelled the end of the band, and indeed the end of an era.
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Gig no.71 - 2/05/80 - Magazine & Bauhaus - Guildhall, Northampton
The Northampton Guildhall, then and now home of the always underwhelming Northampton Borough Council is a magnificent example of Victorian Gothic architecture, and you could not have asked for a better setting for these two bands than the its banqueting hall. High painted ceiling, vaulted stained glass windows, Bela Lugosi would have felt right at home, as did Northampton's very own goth pioneers Bauhaus. Singer Pete Murphy camped it up for all he was worth. Anywhere else and it might have been cringeworthy but here it was perfect.
Even better that they were followed by Magazine, my favourite band of that time. Having left Buzzcocks in order to follow his more art school inclined leanings Howard Devoto formed this wonderful band who were a cross between punk and, dare I say it prog rock, and Mr Devoto perfected a sort of Brian Eno with menace and more eyeliner. That's a whole load of the right boxes ticked. They were of course, awesome. Songs such as Shot By Both Sides, I Love You You Big Dummy, Permafrost, were all belted out with aplomb. Their guitarist John McGeoch left shortly after to join Siouxsie & The Banshees and Magazine were never quite the same. Sigh....
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Gig no.83 - 22/06/81 - Kraftwerk - De Montfort Hall, Leicester
At the height of their fame on the Computer World tour, Kraftwerk were the torch bearers of futuristic stage sets and pioneers of the use of computers in music making. This tour had the lot, the most memorable being the song The Robots where computerised mannequins of the band actually "performed" the song, and it took a while before we knew that what we were looking at was not the actual band. Utterly mesmerising and way ahead of their time.
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Gig no.90 - 25/06/82 - The Rolling Stones - Wembley Stadium
The one and only time I've seen The Strolling Bones on stage. Even back then they seemed ancient, and logically Keef should have been dead, but my initial scepticism was soon crushed by the sheer ease with which they rock'n'rolled all night long, gawd bless 'em.
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There now follows a brief detour into the world of pop when I was quite easily persuaded by feminine wiles to see Dexy's Midnight Runners, Yazoo, Gary Glitter(!), and Fun Boy Three in quick succession. Can't say I remember much about any of those as my attention was elsewhere! However, I do remember getting incredibly drunk at the Gary Glitter gig and can still recall the BIGGEST HANGOVER OF ALL TIME the day after. It still hurts.
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Gig no.101 - 17/10/84 - Elvis Costello & The Attractions and The Pogues - De Montfort Hall, Leicester
Here we are back in my home from home to witness a raucous set by the Irish rabble rousers originally known as Pogue Mahone, which translates as Kiss My Arse. I could not understand a word being "sung" by young Shane McGowan, but if it made me dance, it must have been good. Declan and his lads were on fine form propelled into furious angsty renditions of their hits by the singer's genuinely angry delivery. A great beery sweat drenched night.
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Gig no.103 - 15/03/85 - Frankie Goes To Hollywood - De Montfort Hall, Leicester
I quite liked the Trevor Horn produced Welcome To The Pleasure Dome (hmm, must dig it out) as his prog credentials added a layer of mystique to what essentially would otherwise have been gay rock/disco crossover music! The serious music press at the time was awash with "they can't play their instruments" stories, so I was curious as to what the live experience was like. From memory I think they had a second guitarist and a second keyboard player in the wings, so maybe the critics were right. Whatever the band lacked in musicianship was made up for by Holly Johnson's innate showbiz personality - he was hilarious. I reckon he'd have made a good comedian.
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Gig no.104 - 22/03/85 - The Smiths - Derngate Theatre, Northampton
A band that still manages to polarise opinion some 20 plus years after they split up, but I loved them. Ok, Morrissey even back then showed signs of being the full blown dickhead he's since become, but he definitely had something back in the day. The Derngate is a rather staid modern provincial theatre with a "no standing" policy, but as soon as the band came on everybody stood up and remained so all night. There was dancing, shouting, flowers being tossed on stage by the girls (and some boys) at the front. We were in a box above stage right and had a perfect viewpoint. Moz's intelligent but NOT depressing lyrics, married with Marr's Byrdsian guitar were a perfect combination. Thoroughly enjoyable.
And we could walk home for once!
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Between gig 105 and 120 two years pass and there were none that were particularly memorable either in a good or bad way musically, but the period was noted for my companion's annoying habit of almost running out of petrol on the way home from the venues. In fact coming back from Billy Bragg at Norwich University in November 1986 he did exactly that. Leaving another mate of mine and his girlfriend with the car and after walking for miles through an industrial estate in Thetford we eventually found a garage that was open, filled up a jerrycan and traipsed back to the car. During our little ramble I took the opportunity to call Simon (probably not his real name) all the c*nts under the sun, and almost came to the point of punching the dozy f*ck! The mate and his girlfriend I referred to had never been with us to a gig and had heard my stories of his lackadaisical approach to fuel maintenance (not to mention his dangerously crap driving, but that's another story) so were not too thrilled to have their doubts confirmed, and I was mightily embarrassed. Those of you who know me will know that I am not in the least bit aggressive so you can imagine how angry I must have been to nearly deck the sod. Ah, I feel better now I've got that off my chest...

Gig no121 was probably the most bizarre experience at a concert I've had, but you'll have to wait until next week for that.....see you then!
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