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The Weeley Festival.
Clacton On Sea . Essex.
August 27th-29th 1971.
Music press coverage .
The musical program at Weeley lasted from midnight on Friday until dawn on Monday. Apart from delays between bands, it was non-stop and even the hardiest of fans must have dozed off while acts were playing.
night opened with Hackensack and
throughout the night there were sets from Principal Edwards
Magic Theatre, Edgar Broughton, who earned
a lengthy encore, Juicy Lucy, and
Status Quo. The latter group arrived by helicopter and were whisked away
to Switzerland after a set which brought the crowds to their feet
Early Saturday saw Gnidrolog, the Pink Fairies and Fairfield Parlour onstage. But it took Mungo Jerry to wake the sleepy crowd. Mungo Jerry, with Joe Rush , of the Country Jug band sitting in on washboard, sounded like a five man Jesse Fuller, with Ray Dorset telling everyone to join in on "anything that bangs." coke cans, beer bottles and spam tins clanged from out in the arena. It could have been a gas, but audiences have changed since the Hollywood Festival and consequently their music primitive at the best - was not enough to get that dancing crowd scene off the ground. They bashed their bottles, tapped their toes and Ray Dorset tried his hardest. "Midnight Special," "Have A Whiff On Me," and "Bottle Up And Go" earned them an encore. Really they were just a little too early in the day to get things truly going.
Acoustic bands are on a strange footing at Festivals , where the giant PA's distort their guitars out of all recognition forcing the bass strings to ring out a flat choking sound in the distance underneath swirling treble chords. Tir Na Nog who followed Gringo with their complicated instrumental work and subtle vocals, didn't have a chance to get across the message of music, but with their gay Gaelic sense of humour and perfect choice of material they deserved far more feed back than they were given by the audience.
If there is one lady
singer in Britain who deserves to be there at the top, it must be the
lovely Maggie Bell. With the new
Stone the Crows she looks every part a star, and yet at the same
time manages to be the focal point without taking any glint a way from
their rock and roll music. Storming round the stage, with her incredible
gutsy voice Miss Bell must now be Britain's first lady of pop.
Short wait and there were Colosseum on stage who went straight into "Lost Angeles" with the minimum of waiting. What a perfect festival set it was, every ingredient of large crowd rock was there - the heaviness, the blaring riff and above all musicianship that was both stunning and funky mostly at the same time.They played their new suite, "The Pirate's Dream" with its moods and extended solos. Being the first public airing, it sounded too tight and over rehearsed, but once they have been playing it for a while and the solos are coming out more fluid. "The Pirate's Dream" will become a firm favourite in their repertoire. Their set also included a pulsating 20-minute drum solo from Jon Hiseman, that was one of Saturday's instrumental highlights. Coming during a Mike Gibb number that lost slight momentum without a large brass section, it followed another exciting solo by tenor player, Dick Heckstall-Smith. It was a great set that got people ready for King Crimsons musical pictures.
James Harvest, who took to the stage with a 45-piece orchestra, tried
an experiment which almost came off brilliantly. The sound balance between
their electric instruments and the violins and brass of the orchestra was
perfect. Unfortunately it took Colin King and
his assistants around 1.5 hours to achieve the balance and the delay left
the crowd in unsympathetic mood. Conducted by Martyn
Ford, the orchestral ideas brought back memories of the Nice at Plumpton
two years ago. And the Nice succeeded better.
Following a competent if mediocre set from Comus , King Crimson took the stage for one of Saturday's highlights. They gave us a selection of material from the Lizard album, numbers on their forthcoming album and concluded with their tour de force "20th Century Schitzoid Man" New singer Boz, whose rise to his current status never fails to amaze, sang clearly and well and Bob Fripp demonstrated his technical virtuosity on guitar and various keyboards. Pete Sinfield took up a position in the crowd to ensure that the sound balance was perfect throughout.
Rory Gallagher blew a set that was an example to some of the lesser heavy groups in how to mix volume and sledge hammer techniques with tone and musicianship. The audience loved them, but maybe for the wrong reason in that there brasher parts are far more numerous and obvious. But the audience, and tired, cold people back-stage, needed a release from King Crimson's classical rock. Their boogey-roogie earned them an encore when encores are completely out with the time schedules hours behind.
Mott The Hoople suffered through taking the stage a time when even the keen fans were concerned primarily with sleep. Due to take stage at midnight on Saturday, it wasn't until about six hours later that they finally made it. Even Ian Hunter ,whose usual boundless energy must have been on the wane , couldn't rouse a tired crowd.
With the Groundhogs, Being and Caravan taking care of Sunday morning, Lindisfarne proved to the stars on the afternoon. Their brand of folk/rock ideally suited to a festival audience and, although they must have been an unknown quantity to the majority, they earned a couple of encores.
The word has obviously spread that Lindisfarne are one of Britains best up and coming groups and many their songs were greeted with knowing cheers. Alan Hulls "Fog On The Tyne" the title track of their forthcoming album - brought the audience to its feet and there must have been 50,000 or so voices chanting along to the hymn-like "We Can Swing Together."
They came back to do Woodie Guthrie's "Jackhammer" to an outstanding ovation and finished with "Clear White Light." Alan Hull was visibly trembling after the set. It was their best ever reception by a mass audience and one which they thoroughly deserved.
The crowd could happily have listened to Lindisfarne for another hour, and there must have been some doubts when Julie Felix followed. Fortunately she won the crowd to her side and earned another good ovation. A few thousand throats joined in with her version of the Paul Simon resurrected traditional song "Yes I Would."
Following a brief appearance on stage by a bible puncher, earnestly inviting the crowd to join some religious sect, Quintessence appeared with amps draped in silk . Their semi-Indian chants mixed with rock sounded very dull after Lindisfarne. Their first number lasted over an hour and resembled a lengthy jam session.
Head, Hands and Feat played their usual competent set but the crowd by this time were waiting eagerly for the Faces. Even Albert Lees superb country guitar picking failed to arouse the reaction it deserved.
Time was on the right side for The Faces, who took the stage around 7 p.m. on Sunday just as light was fading. So much has been written about Rod Stewart's tremendous stage show that it needs little more description."Maybe Im Amazed," "Country Comfort," "When Will I Be Loved," "All Over Now," "Plynth" and "Gasolene Alley" all resounded through the Marshall speaker system as the audience stamped and cheered for more. Rod, resplendent in pink silk suit with no shirt, whirled the mike stand around and squeezed everything from his front line of Ronnie's Wood and Lane. "Heres a song about a schoolboy what falls in love with a dirty old prostitute" was the opening for "Maggie May," which flowed like a river in flood. "Losing You" - the last scheduled song - brought the crowd to its feet and the cheers must have been heard in Clacton as Rod led his men back on stage for "Feel So Good" "Real Good Time" came as a second encore and the act finished with the group belting out "Every Picture Tells A Story."
The Faces were actually
second billing to T. Rex, who had a difficult
time following. Earlier in the day, when an announcer had apologised for
not allowing one group an encore, he had shouted.' "Do
you want to see the Faces?" A resounding "yes" came
from the crowd. "Do you I want to see T. Rex,"
he shouted again. A resounding no" was the reply.
Updated October 2012
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