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Last updated Dec 6th 2003

The Knebworth Park Festivals.

Oh God, Not Another Boring Old Knebworth: 9-9-78.

The Tubes, Frank Zappa, Peter Gabriel, Boomtown Rats, Rockpile, Wilko Johnson's Solid Senders


Reviews

   Would you believe , when the Tubes and the last choruses of 'White Punks On Dope " there must have been 40 people on stage including a chorus line of dancing girls and a deputation of Salvation Army Bandsmen ( or close facsimiles ) . It was ridiculous and superb in its way, Billy Smart meets the Emperor Nero . The Christians and the Lions both wore red noses and laughed at each other .

   There were other theatrical coups " What Do You Want From Life? " scorched our materialistic society as thoroughly as ever, with variations such as Fee's final prize offering such as ' how about a broken leg at Leicester "( Fee had done just that in May and this concert was their return to touring ). It was still fresh . Not exactly the word for Re Styles in " Mondo Bondage ' , but her snakey sinuous dancing was a turn on even at 300 yards.

   You're getting the picture that they lean heavily on the first album but there was at least one new scenario which matched their earlier panache , The Terrorist. Fee in black battle dress with red beret , toting a sub-machine gun , harangued us to give up our dope and smash the system . ' I know, I'm the one that really knows " . The mock demagoguery was impressive and the Tubes troupe contributed a flag waving dance that hit the spot - any cause that can be summed up with bit of coloured cloth has to be a dumb trick .

   But here's the twist, although they keep you chuckling with their audacity , the whole Tubes experience has a distinctly hollow feeling to it for most of their hour and a half of excess . Apart from the straight up rockers , "I Saw Her Standing There " and" Stand Up And Shout" musically they lacked flair , which their glum instrumental -while- Fee-has-a-breather sessions demonstrated .

   And what's worse their elaborate creations were quite bird brained outside of "What Do You Want From Life" , "Smoke" and "The Terrorist " . All their imagination was spent on costume and choreography at the expense of content . If they had picked up on the acid accuracy of 10cc in "Sheet Music " days they could have been rocks ultimate weapon . Instead, their words are barely worth listening to. Like the most negative rock criticism , they set them up ( ideas ) and knock them down . Garish and grotesque as they are there's no way they can be anarchy even if they wanted to, they are middle America irredeemably.

   At Knebworth they stood exposed rather more than at the Hammersmith Odeon and these deficiencies were a continual irritant . Grandly as they played every gesture, the festival still miniaturised them . Quay Lewd on mountainous stack heels was still a dwarf from where I stood half way up one of the lighting towers . Sure the crowd was reasonably happy with what they did, (a smile ,a song and a magic trick )but all their roads seem to lead to Las Vegas (like Alice Cooper ). They won't sell enough records , they won't pull enough kids to survive long term in rock . Financially to remain operational they surely need the Jaded palettes of smoothies who will pay a hundred dollars a throw to see them at Caesar's Palace for glitter, dirty words and a lot of female flesh .

   That said, I have to empathise that they were a light , entertaining end to the day and no let down . Although, they perhaps see themselves as the epitome of cynicism they treat their audience with total respect and give their all .

   For encores , with Todd Rundgren guesting, they played a tribute to Keith Moon. It was "Baba O' Reilly" and the "The Kids Are Alright" , rough and from the gut it felt right and it was appreciated.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream -Knebworth 6-24-78

Knebworth Concerts 1974-79

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