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THE KENDAL GATHERING
Kendall . The Lake District . August 29th 1971.
THE KENDAl POP FESTIVAL
Colosseum. Uriah Heep.
Universe. Inner Sound
Colin Milburn paints a great picture of what this one day bash was like, thanks Colin for bringing the event back to life !
Hello one and all,
I'd like to share my memories of the first open air event I attended.This was The Kendal Gathering in, not surprisingly, Kendal in the Lake District.
The Gathering is an annual charity event run, I think, by the Round Table. Normally it consists of Donkey Derbys and other fairly sedate fund-raising events and lasts throughout the summer. The year in question was 1971 and the date was 29th August. I only know this as your website gave me the clues I needed to pin down the date but more of that later.
The three headlining bands were, no particular order, Uriah Heep, Colosseum and a local-ish band who were reckoned to be on the brink of the big time called Universe who were reported to have a light show to rival Pink Floyd's. I got this information from my cousin who was working in a hotel in Kendal and saw Universe on numerous occasions and raved about them to me whenever we met. I traveled up to the site from Barrow, about forty miles distant, with drinking-mate Dave and his then girl-friend Helen. The weather was terrible and I nearly called Dave to cancel. They arrived in Helen's beat-up NSU motor. I complained about the weather. Dave had brought tents even though it was just a one-day event. Also he'd bought the tickets and I knew he'd want the money so I put on an anorak and climbed in the back.
There were about 3-4000 people at the site, all pretty bedraggled looking as the rain was ceaseless, cold and nearly horizontal. A band the DJ informed us was called Pendulum were playing as we set up the tents on the edge of the crowd. We must have been among the last to arrive as the crowd did not grow beyond our tents. Pendulum were a competent covers band, Credence Clearwater and Family numbers are lodged in my memory. The stage had no fixed PA system, each band used their own which added to the delays between acts. There must have been other bands in between Pendulum and the first headliner but they have faded into the ether. The first of the main acts to appear was The Heep. I had a couple of their albums including 'Look at Yourself' which was their current LP and liked them without being an out and out fan. But they won me over that day as they were excellent. Their PA was LOUD! Even in the open field I reckon that their noise was heard over in Coniston. Also, the weather took a dramatic turn for the better. The stage was covered in clear polythene and the sun, setting behind it, came out for the first time from behind bruised-looking clouds right on cue for the start of 'July Morning'. This received a rapturous reception from the crowd. The Heep line up was pre Kerslake-Thain rhythm section era of later years but Box, Hensley and Byron were present with all the trade mark Wagnerian vocals, crunching guitars and keyboards. The crowd was already standing due to the sodden ground but the Heep received a well-deserved ovation and probably played a couple of encores.
There was another wait as Colosseum's gear was set up. The brief warmth provided by the Heep-induced sunshine dissipated as the sun dipped lower behind the Cumbrian Fells. Hiseman and his men hit the stage in gathering twilight. Most bands have 'Classic' line-ups, Deep Purple Mk2 springs immediately to mind, where they hit their stride and produce their best music. Although, studio-wise, Colosseum's first two albums were their best, live this was the business. They just hammered through everything they knew. 'The Pirate's Dream', which appeared on Dick Heckstall-Smith's solo album was awesome. I'd always ranked this band among the best of that late-sixties/early seventies Prog/Jazz Rock melting pot of music. Superb musicians, excellent material, let down only occasionally by comparatively weak vocals. In Chris Farlowe they had the ideal front man. Powerhouse vocals plus terrific stage presence. Hiseman's drum solo thundered around the hills and the sun finally went down before he had finished. He mentioned that they were feeling a bit knackered after driving North following appearing at the Weeley festival the previous day. So it's thanks to you for helping me pin this gig down in time if not space. I don't know if it's of any significance but I caught Hiseman and Farlowe at gigs at the Brewery Arts in the self-same Kendal some
twenty-five years later. Hiseman was playing with his wife Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia and Farlowe was with Mickey Moody and Tim Hinckley in a re-formed Thunderbirds. Both were memorable gigs.
Universe were keen to get on stage and backed their van up to the front of the stage which earned them a terse 'Get that fackkin' van outta the road' from Chris Farlowe. Colosseum finally relinquished the stage and we packed up our gear as Universe set up theirs. Unfortunately any memory of what Universe actually sounded like, or what their much-vaunted light show looked like, is gone from the memory. Another point of Kendal-based karma is that Universe's lead guitarist was a guy called John Allcock. I attended a gig at Kendal Town Hall, a few months later where said Allcock was appearing with his latest band but no light show. Spooky? Probably not.
As you might have guessed Universe did not make the big time.
We didn't stay for much of the Universe set and left, as we had arrived, while the majority of the crowd were dancing in the mud.
Thanks for the great site.
Me and a crowd of mates from Burnley went up filling the back of hired vanby picking up all the hitchhikers we could on the way. Didn't really fancyany of the bands, but hey it was a festival, and it was near to Lancashire(actually, although Kendal was in Westmorland, most of the Southern Lake District WAS in Lancashire back then, before they reorganised Local Government and created Cumbria in 1974 !). Things like that didn't happenmuch in the North/North West until this and then Bickershaw!
Being a showground, we were able to park the van around the edge of thegrassed area, so we had a great view sitting in the back facing the stage.We all got stoned (surprise) and the ice cream guy wouldn't serve me a dozen or so ice creams unless I paid up front, assuming I would take the mick and run off!
Peter Purvis (Blue Peter, Dr Who) was there, walking about in the crowd witha girl and some big dogs!. Pretending to be a hippie in those short afghancoats that were popular at the time...but it was spotlessly clean!. We being bona-fide weekend hippies and at least having the decency to be scruffy,this resulted in a crowd of stoned idiots in the back of a van banging on the side chanting 'Peter Pervert'!.
Sorry, can't actually recall any music at all!
The Uriah Heep list of gigs states that this show was on the 29th Aug, can anyone confirm the date with an advert or newspaper review ?
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Kendall Festival 1973
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