For information on today's festivals see eFestivals.co.uk
Updated Sept 2007 new photos
Aug 23-25th 1974.
all others failed, either through lack of organisation or lousy weather, the
Marquee Festival sailed through. This was their fourteenth National Jazz Blues
and Rock festival and admittedly they have had a lot of practice. If some of
the acts there proved to be disappointingly mediocre , it was no fault of the
To an ever growing crowd and a light spattering of rain, Nutz took to the stage to open the festival around 3;30 on Friday. Singer Dave Lloyd was looking very pretty and leaping quite well to Long Ship and Communication Breakdown , but was nowhere near Daltrey. Though not for want of trying on Young Man Blues. Hustler, second band of the day , followed. They seemed to be more popular and they swung into some loud beaty numbers which raised a few cheers. Their lead guitarist displayed the most wonderful take off I have ever seen of an Orangutan and stomped about looking most aggressive , while their vocalist took first prize for mike swinging . For me the most interesting part of their act was tiny four year old boy sitting cross legged watching intently and pounding out rhythm on his little legs with clenched fists, much the same as I did.
Heavy Metal Kids © Steve Austin
|JSD band were definitely brighter and the up mood was helped by a number of tight funky numbers. Johnny was good on the harp and his four piece band played with enthusiasm. I was surprised to find that the audience did not seem to agree with me , but then they seemed to be a pretty dead lot, a security officer remarked that it was really quiet this year. However, , Beckett appeared to buck them up and they got the first real applause of the day . They did quite a nice version of Southern Man . I wondered why these bands , who admittedly , might be alright at the Marquee Club in London, were taking up so much of the day seeming to look and sound practically the same .|
darkness started to fall Camel came on, by which time I couldn't face another
'you can't tell Stork from butter band' , so I waited impatiently for 10
cc to arrive. Camel went off, the records came on and went on. 10 cc hadn't
arrived . Yes they had and they had a ticket for the wrong parking space
and wouldn't walk from a parking to b parking . Yes they would, but they
wouldn't go on stage until it was dark and they wanted to use their own
lights. As the waiting time grew doubts flowed through me , would they happen
Yes, there they were pounding out their new single 'Silly Love 'taken from the Sheet Music album. The atmosphere started cooking at last. They were good and they knew it , but come on audience , where was the appreciation ? Taken from their first album , they did a very good Ships Don't Just Disappear In The Night and the equally good Baron Samedi , taken from Sheet Music . They appeared to be enjoying themselves, but not as much as I was.
Barclay James Harvest entertain the troops © Steve Austin
The stage darkened for 'Old Wild Men' and lit up as they finished with the very lively 'Rubber Bullets ', great stuff but sadly no encore. After Fumble who were unlucky enough to follow 10 cc ( comparisons didn't favour them ) came the Sensational Alex Harvey band At last the crowd came to their feet and all eyes were on the stage as they worked through numbers like 'Hot City Symphony ', new single' Sgt Fury' ,' Schools Out' and' Anthem'. Much cheering led to 'Framed' as an encore . It was visually and musically exciting , amusing and spell blinding in fact sensational . an impressive ending to an otherwise boring day.
Left: Chapman -Whitney © Steve Austin
Procol Harum onstage Reading 1974 © Vin Miles
events opened with Jack the Lad , veterans of last years festival. Its
no joke opening at any time , but despite having a less than a full audience,
they did well.
It was disappointing therefore that Thin Lizzy turned out to be somewhat unremarkable, after Procul's performance. John Baldry , likewise technically good , just wasn't a star, he was however wearing a fetching daffodil yellow suit .
was dark and cold by the time Traffic appeared . The ground was beginning to
look like a rock and roll Butlins .Personally I'd rather see Traffic in the
comfort of a stadium than out in the open , I enjoyed their set much
of which was material from their forthcoming album , including a fine song called
Graveyard People but the cold was beginning to get through to everyone
Steve Winwood brought the people to a hushed silence with his superb John Barleycorn, for which he was accompanied by Chris Wood on flute and Jim Capaldi on vocals . It was very impressive. Of the older numbers they did , they included Forty Thousand Headmen and Low Spark. It was entertaining and undoubtedly good, but looking back, I still think Procul stole the day.
Reading 74 ( from Divine Times ).
They were out in force at Reading last weekend for the "14th National Jazz, Blues and Rock festival". really the name is a con. The jazz isn't there any more; blues are only present when played by rock groups, and the rock , although written in smaller letters than jazz and blues on the leaflet and, posters, is really what it's about.
the festival's been going for so long without serious incident that it's
become something of an institution in that part of the world. If the government
ever passed a law banning festivals forever, they'd probably exclude Reading.
It's just too good to be true, and the organisers, with 14 years experience
behind them, obviously want it to stay that way. The whole set-up was
organisers said they didn't get big names so as to keep the numbers down,
but they got the names that pulled in a hard core of followers —
Traffic, Cockney Rebel, Alex Harvey, lO cc, Focus.
George Melly and band © Steve Austin
is the one who is really loved. The diminutive, wizen-faced buccaneer garbed
Glaswegian time and time again saluted his followers, arms raised towards
them, two fingers outstretched, and tens of thousands of arms giving the
same salute back, just showed how closely they really identify with him
— survivor of a million gang fights, rumpuses, brushes with the law,
and still coming back smiling, swigging his ale and full of love for life
Because there's no doubt, the swashbuckling loon who can make everything, but everything, stand still for a minute while he stands eyes closed, apparently meditating is, in his own way, a true flower child; an apostle of peace and love. He punctuates his numbers with brotherly advice, and the crowds love it.
"Two things to remember," he suddenly says in his harsh, clipped Scottish voice, outstretched arms weaving their spell. "The fust thing is, nevva make a bullet, nevva buy a bullet, and nevva fire a bullet, because If 'ee do, ye make a rich mon richer. And the second thing is (pause) we love you. (Cheers) Do ye believe that? (More cheers) Ye should, because ye noo' it's true. We love ya (deafening cheers)."
Backstage with the Alex Harvey band Reading 1974
At the end of his act, he brings on a bagpipe band and extra groups of singers for a "Hey Jude" type finale while he stands on a platform above it all, saluting the baying crowds, master, it seems, of all he surveys. The effect is shattering. A great act, Alex.
had a different flavour, more like nostalgia, with Georgie Fame and John
Baldry who were in it virtually from the beginning. And where Long John,
as he used to be called, has gone with the times with his 'hip' looking
band, Georgie with his Blue Flames seems to have remained in suspended animation
— looking and sounding exactly as they did 10 years ago. Even the
zest that Georgie and the boys put into their set couldn't offset the staleness
of their slick jazz style.
John Baldry has fared better, as it's hard to resist the gutsy pull of a really good blues singer—and he really gave his best after a long absence from the festival.
Moving from this almost historic note to the present, all the other groups paled into insignificance as soon as Traffic stalked onto the stage. Low key and humble as ever, they warmed up with a couple of new numbers and went into old but still vital numbers like "Pearly Queen", "Who knows what tomorrow may bring? " and "40,000 Headmen" as well as other material from their new album "The Eagle Flies".
Really it seemed like they were the only band that night actually playing music for the people. They weren't out to 'entertain' but just to play -no flashing lights, electronic effects or cavorting like the rest. Just music -beautiful music. The four of them piled layer upon layer of sound into an intricate weave of music that left you no choice but to flow with it.
The applause was tremendous.
Reading 74 pages.
The early festivals.
You can find out the complete line ups of the first festivals if you follow the links below .
Most of these have fairly complete documentation .But new contributions of any sort are always welcome regarding any of the festivals.
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