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The Melody Maker Review.
I kept this copy of the Mag for the past 26 years, but the original is too tatty to scan, So I've laboriously typed out the whole thing . I've kept the format of the original as far as possible, graphics, columns and all. 
Melody Maker review. page 2. 
Melody Maker review page 3. 
 
Bickershaw, near Wigan , Sunday. In a sleazy crummy press tent just 200 puddles away from  the main stage, a festival organizer, greasy through 
lack of sleep, attempted to explain just what had gone  wrong and what had gone right with Bickershaw.
    The facts were quite simple actually. The organizers  , a group of local businessmen, would be forking out  around 180.000 pounds for the whole affair. Only  around 25,000 people paid to get in at around two  quid each. You dont have to be a wizard at maths  to figure that Bickershaw ran at an incredible loss. 
THE DAY THE MUSIC
DROWNED.

 

       It ran through three days of amazing weather  too. When it rains in Lancashire , it really  pulls the whole trick, so it was mud -rock, wet bottoms and a hellishly cold wind. 

But, said organizer Jeremy Beadle " musically its been a success and as a festival its been a success . Nobody could complain about the facilities. And theres been no trouble". 

         Facilities. Well, even the best festival facilities would do a dog little justice. What Bickershaw threw up for all to see was something removed from money , or from organizers- it was sheer guts and bravery on behalf of  an audience that at all times would have stupefied the most hardened war veteran .

        Like at 4;30 am on Sunday morning with rain falling as thick as curtains on ground that's already a living , oozing mess, there comes a massive cheer. 
 You see kids , their trousers and pumps  fused to their legs with mud and filth, faces puffy and lost looking , suddenly get up and boogie. 

     At times , when theres no music, you just see dark hordes , moody and sullen ,wrapped in wet blankets, counting pennies for a coffee and a Wagon Wheel, which is maybe breakfast. You can't help wondering why the hell they don't go home. 
   There were few bands who walked away without some puzzled admiration for the people who came to see them . But its not just music that brings these people to festivals. There were often more people walking around during sets than sitting listening .

    Within the fences - broken flat in places -that surrounded Bickershaw, -lay the actors in a mythical plot of rock music , peace and love. Mythical , most certainly. See it all in one eyeful and it indeed looks fantastical and magical. Take a walk through it and take many eyefuls and its the most depressing spectacle. Its pitiful.

    Four thousand holes in Blackburn Lancashire (remember John Lennon ) and at nearby Bickershaw  there were 30.000 , each filled with a body that clapped , freaked , attempted sleep, ate hot spuds, gravy and peas , clapped again , got wet, freaked -for three days. 
   They'll get no filthier than Bickershaw- and there will be fewer audiences that are warmer at the coldest moments . And there was some mighty good music around from a  predominantly American bill. 

       As Sunday progressed, many people finally cracked and made for home. But a core of 15,000 took everything that Mother Nature offered and stayed for the Grateful Dead and got what they'd been waiting for -because the Dead blew a bigger storm. 

      For those interested in ecology, even dear dirty

Go to top of page here

Wigan could never have been dirtier. Its streets filled with litter, bottles , cans , even discarded shoes. Gardens full of wrappers and a playground heaped high with junk and rubbish. 
     They had left a darned big mess -  and even offered good pay, few stayed to clean it
up. 

Friday. 

     Hawkwind, hampered by sound problems and  inadequate lighting, perform - ed like desperate men. They played as if they were playing for their lives beneath the shadow of a noose. 

 Fierce puppet movements exaggerated by strobe. Outside the purely musical context the groups fortunes have vastly improved.

      Bob Calvert was back on stage as lead singer and narrator, presumably recovered from his psychological crash and Vox had given them equipment to replace that stolen two weeks ago. 

    But on stage , space or spaced out music has to be subtler than a parallel  representation of the vast expanses between stars . Hawkwind spin along through out  the vast eternal plan until the immensity of it all approaches monotony. 

      There's no opportunity  for the listener to to sleep out  the journey in sub zero temperatures . Instead there is one continuous rhythm that that rarely varies and seldom stops.  Friday night saw the introduction of part of the groups new space opera All deeply imaginative . with the  screen behind showing alternating flashes of stars and  the moon face and Joe's Lights characteristic star flapping through space like a  jettisoned body .

     But Hawkwind tended to manipulate their subject matter with the  approach of  schoolboys. Imagination and enthusiasm where there, but the artistic precision and discipline needed to mould the primal matter of space were not . There are degrees of ambiguity that are virtually meaningless in terms of human consciousness 

It wasn't exactly easy for Rock groups to be heard over the festival sound system. 

     For one man and his acoustic guitar , the problem was that much more acute . Johnathon Kelly struggled to put his songs across. The audience was eventually won  around, partly because Kelly wisely confined himself to his faster , rock orientated songs.  Once people were in a Kelly mood they vibrated to his choruses and grunted approvingly to air their frustrations. 

 By Kelly's standards it was unusually low key,. His set culminated with the superb Cursed Anna's stare, as good a culmination as anyone can come up with. 
  With so many loaded clouds floating around and an unwelcome sou'and nor  west force eight wind making itself at home a spot of rock and roll found a few admirers - the time being about 2 am. 

    Wishbone Ash provide this welcome heaviness, being  greeted on all sides by lengthy applause and other signs of approval. Wishbones music was comparatively simple , composed of well known riffs and rhythms strung together tightly. 
   

  But the time was right for such as this , Lead guitar  produced some expansive sounds and the group had the gift of cutting into the heaviness with a contrasting notes at particularly convincing times
    The group was favoured 
by being on stage at the right time for heavy music rather then by any innate gift for producing  musical miracles.

 Dr John
    Who was this man who 
thousands awaited? Doctor 
John, he sang in reply. So predictably strange and yet surprisingly human. 

    First  came the band and 
then the opening bars. 
Bickershaw was fill of eyes, waiting for the Doctor to appear. 

  At a suitably tense interval 
he was there ,wading on 
stage like Liberace under 
Lunar gravity conditions. 
DJ was all in white, top hat 
and tails . From a shoulder 
bag he plucked handfuls 
of glitter, discharging them 
with zombie abandon . 
Simulated magic dust. 

  On stage he moved , 
dancing with the speed 
of a hippo and the 
enchanting ungainliness 
of a cantering giraffe. It was no the time for indulging in scenes of of weird individuality. 
      Dr John sensed it . 
You wanna li'l rock and roll ?- he asked . 
Yep Doc we sure do.
 

Ok here goes. 
    A little boogieing on the  guitar and a little more on  the piano. His captivating  black female songsters 
cooed and fluttered and  in the background was  the plain earthy accompan-  iment of the brass section. 
    There were words that  people understood and  words that were completely unintelligible to the average 
English mind. Voodoo chants and magic rattles, Twelve bars and Louisiana blues.  As he waded on , so the Doctor plodded off . In procession followed by his captivating black female songsters . 
Doctor John had cast a few touches of glitter into the night time drizzle. 

Saturday.
 Jazz fought hard to gain a foothold amidst the rock and achieved a fair degree of success. It was particularly pleasant to see the Maynard Ferguson Band go down so well on Saturday . Especially as the band were in such remarkable  form. 

 Maynard has never played so well as he is doing  now. Gone were any hints of a fluff or  split. None of his high note work sounded in the least erratic . It was sheer trumpet power that blew like a gale from those incredible chops. Having seen Maynard play on many occasions in extremely varied settings , it was heart warming to hear his music being accepted and cheered.
  The sound system was just right for the band , with a good balance and even the bass and piano could be heard. Randy Jones was in fine fettle and played one of the few drum solos of the day. Brian Jones tenor and soprano work was powerful and exciting. Tunes ranged from John Lennon's Mother, A slow blues that later featured Maynard on valve Trombone and some steaming soprano sax to Eli's Coming  and a funky Hey Jude
    The trumpet section were almost as high in attack as the leader, but nobody could beat the head blowing tweet that Ferguson just forced through his horn in finale to Jude. His tone seemed about a mile wide as he blew in the  more conventional range of the instrument.  I really had a ball up there  said Maynard later. Everybody in the band feels the music and doesn't have any hang ups about playing . We like playing the rock things because its real

     All the jazz was crammed into the early Saturday morning set, which didn't give Brotherhood of Breath much of a chance in front of cold , sleepy audience. 
The Mike Westbrook Band fared better. The Westbrook Band got a very good response from a cold tired audience . Down on the Farm ,a new  piece , was particularly good and Paul Minton sang Morning Song  and Technology

Saturday afternoon. 

 Midday actually saw red hot sunshine and a somewhat temporary feeling that it was all going to be nicely  blissful. But then before you could blink an eye, the clouds were back again and a nasty wind blew on the stage. 

 But the sun came out again- this time in the form of Linda Lewis , playing her biggest gig to date. Remarkable how this lady can capture any audience within  a matter of minutes. 
 She stood and sang her happy songs, showing no nerves , no tension and reaching the most amazing pitches with her voice. Hampstead way and  Jasmine Junky were cut out  so sweetly that that one began to wonder if anybody was actually daring to breathe amongst the audience. 

Read page two of this review


 

The Bickershaw Menu

If you have any info regarding the festival please get in touch Contact us

Other Bickershaw links.
 
  • The Bickershaw diaries-

    Mike Plumbleys saga at Bickershaw, with more photos and extensive first hand observations of his time at the festival. 

  • Repfoto- massive collection of commercially available photos of Bickershaw for sale and view
  • Mothergrumble Magazine-article on Bickershaw and Lincoln 72

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