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September 28th 1968
Hyde Park free concerts,
1968 – where the Action was (at least in September)
I went to two Hyde Park free concerts in 1968 - Roy Harper apart they had very little in common.Saturday 24th August was my first ever free concert of any kind though I had paid to go to the magnificent Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival the preceding summer. I was 17 in 1968, into music and occasionally attending London clubs like The Marquee, travelling up by train from Watford. Stuart gave me a lift to Hyde Park and if memory serves me right, I borrowed my sister’s mascara to beef up my fledgling moustache. This concert was in the Cockpit on a sunny afternoon, featuring a very varied and contemporary line-up: I saw Ten Years After, Peter Sarstedt (Eden Kane’s brother?), Fleetwood Mac, guitarist Stefan Grossman, Fairport Convention, Roy Harper and Family. The audience was relaxed, music great and the afternoon was generally imbued with 1967’s love and peace. My diary entry read: "Really fantastic and enjoyable. I’m so glad things like this can happen".
A month or so later on Saturday 28th September everything was different. It was a rainy afternoon and the site was definitely not the Cockpit. My memory is of a flat area alongside Park Lane, fairly near to the Marble Arch corner of Hyde Park. This time no Stuart and no mascara (probably for the best given the drizzle) but I did meet Steve there – I still know him and he confirms the different venue. The mood was far less celebratory and liberating, probably as a result of the weather and the less concentrated setting. The bands were of a different order too – Clouds were up and coming (but never really arrived). The Move were pretty mainstream by this stage after their early 1967 pre-hit television-smashing psychedelic feedback “Disturbance period – however, they played what my diary recorded as a "great" set which according to Steve included an appropriate "Flowers in the Rain". Roy Harper made another appearance and I have diary evidence that The Strawbs also played.
The other band I saw, not previously listed on this site as appearing, was the excellent genre-crossing Action. I think they played early afternoon. They were well past their mod icon phase and had experienced a brief spell as Azoth before re-adopting their original name. Later they became Mighty Baby and produced an excellent album on the Head label. And of course, the original Action line-up is alive and playing in the 21st century. As far as I recall Ian Whiteman definitely played this gig and the staggering (in all senses) Martin Stone must have been in the band on guitar. They were experimenting with a West Coast sound at this point and possibly included one or two jazzy numbers – certainly Whiteman played flute on some numbers. My diary evaluation of the afternoon read: "Rainy but quite good". And this just about summed it up. It didn’t have the atmosphere of the August concert – Steve remembers this one as "melancholic"– but nevertheless it far outstripped the later over-blown events featuring The Stones and Blind Faith, where the earlier sense of freedom and innocence had been stripped away.
Chris Marshall, Brighton (July 2005)
This is almost certainly the " unknown concert " that we have documented here
Concert reviews and info -1968-71
(These pages include large photogalleries of the concert, most especially King Crimson and Jack Bruce. )
Concert reviews and info -1974-76