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       Bath featured some of the best of both British and US acts to be seen in this country so far this decade and it was refreshing to see that acts were well received regardless of nationality. If they were good, they got a great reception from a crowd that initially was somewhat laid back , but which warmed to the artists as the day progressed.



    The unknown and relatively unprepared Jo Jammer had the onerous task of filling in between acts , as many bands could not get to the site in time to perform - due to the horrendous traffic jams However, they tried their best under difficult circumstances and had to repeat their set on Sunday morning when they played for two and a half hours , again due the scheduled bands non arrival. The Maynard Ferguson band were an adventurous choice for a rock festival and only received lukewarm applause .Pete King( alto )  and Danny Thompson (tenor) delivered some hot solos, but Ferguson's material mostly fell on deaf ears.Keef Hartley delivered a worthy but not scintillating set .

     At around 5:45 pm Fairport Convention arrived courtesy of the Hells Angels and they played a jolly , high energy selection of jigs and reels , which went down well with the crowd, the combination of ace guitarist Richard Thompson and manic fiddler Dave Swarbrick injected a welcome energy shot into the proceedings but still the crowd remained seated and relatively subdued.

   The first band to bring the crowd to its feet was Colosseum John Hiseman's solo was just amazing . On cue , at the highlight of his set, the sun emerged from behind the clouds that had threatened to deluge the arena, , but which fortunately did not dampen the Saturday afternoon proceedings . 

      Hiseman received the first standing ovation of the day from a crowd that had been subdued so far by the delays and the threat of rain, they surged to their feet and the applause was long and heavy .

 John Peel , who was supposed to be sharing the compere duties with Mike Raven , arrived on Saturday afternoon, but due to the chaos that prevailed was refused access to the stage .Instead he mingled with the fans and just dug the music and the atmosphere .

     Its A Beautiful Day, one of the lesser known US bands went down very well , their country rock material . featuring songs such as the singalong Soapstone Mountain and the violin pyrotechnics of David LaFlamme during the frantic Bulgaria.

   Steppenwolf, featuring the ever popular leather clad John Kay played a heavy rock set featuring many of their more popular songs and they received a rousing round of applause.

    Johnny Winter eventually hit the stage at midnight and delivered a brilliant set of blues and rock that kept sleep at bay . He was one of the highlights of the first day.

    Pink Floyd , did not get to perform until after 3 am. But for those who could stay awake it was worth the wait .
 They used a choir, a brass section and fireworks to create a unique visual extravaganza that was well suited to their eerie and atmospheric music .

   John Mayall, who went onstage around 5 AM instead of his scheduled 7pm Saturday slot , had arrived back from holiday in Marakesh earlier in the week . Last minute phone calls on Friday to musician friends resulted in the formation of a super blues group for a one off set at Bath . Featuring Peter Green and Aynsley Dunbar , Ric Grech from Air Force on bass and Johnís brother Rod on organ , unrehearsed , the band did a storming 5 am set, which went down well despite the drizzle that fell during the performance and which provoked groans from the audience when John announced that he was going to play "It Might As well Be Raining " .

   Canned Heat played a hot blues set as the sun was rising , but unfortunately this was missed by many people as many people had crashed by this hour.

  Jo Jammer once again filled in the gaps between bands with another set that , once again, failed to appeal to most of the crowd.

Donovan was the first recognised artist to appear on Sunday. He made a second surprise appearance , filling in time while the scheduled bands attempted to get to the site through the unrelenting traffic seize-up. He played a mixed acoustic and electric se that lasted two hours . Beginning with familiar numbers such as Sunshine Superman   Mellow Yellow, Hurdy Gurdy  Man and Catch the Wind on acoustic guitar , he was accompanied by John Carr ( bongos) and guitarist Mike Thomson .After an hour of acoustic music, he moved into an electric section accompanied by Thomson on bass, but by this time the crowd was tiring of his music and the response was less delirious .  

    Volatile Frank Zappa's latest incarnation of the Mothers Of Invention kicked off the official proceeding s around 2:45 pm as Zappa introduced each band member to the audience . Featuring local hero Aynsley Dunbar on drums and Ex -Turtles Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan this line-up has energy and enthusiasm in spades.

       After an hour of intense music which featured many long jams rockets were set off and the entire audience rose to applaud this great band , who proved to be one of the peaks of the day . Zappa was in fine form , with many great guitar solos and Dunbar was impeccable in every respect.

    Santana followed the Mothers with a dense set of their up tempo Latin rock, which resulted in a strong audience response. Their percussive emphasis (as well as Carlos brilliant guitar work ) pushed their music to ever more frantic heights and they stood out amongst the more traditional blues rock sounds that dominated most of the days Proceedings .

Flock were brilliant . Ace violinist Jerry Goodman created a variety of amazing sounds as he threw himself around the stage, hair flailing and bow sawing wildly .The band received a huge ovation and were moved by their reception "we've been in England before, but this is the first time we've been in the real England. "
For the encore Goodman demonstrated that he was as much a master of the electric guitar as his violin during  Mechanical Man.

   As the time approached for Led Zeppelin's set ( 8. pm, when it was still light , a huge crowd had assembled in the arena , at least 150,000 possibly more .

    After another half hour wait the members of Led Zeppelin took to the stage- Robert Plant- complete with shirt open to the waist, Jimmy Page attired like a run down eccentric squire , wearing an ankle length tweed coat and floppy hat , John Paul Jones in flares and a trendy shirt on bass guitar and drummer Bonham sporting a natty purple vest .

      Starting with a new number called Immigration Song, they took a while to get the audience to show some enthusiasm , but over the three hours they played the crowd became more and more entranced by their music. Jimmy Page , as he had done at the 1969 festival, produced his violin bow to play his guitar and John Paul Jones was featured on Hammond organ on" Since Iíve been loving you" .It was after John Bonham's phenomenal drum solo - violent , aggressive and furiously fast  - had brought the crowd permanently to their feet, that the real fun began !. 

      Their set was not all composed of heavy sounds ,the beautiful  "The first time " , featured Paul on mandolin and Page on six string acoustic, whilst Plant restrained his vocal screeches , adopting a more restrained approach .

      A lengthy rock medley  followed and after this the crowd just wouldn't let them go .Plant threw his Tambourine to the fans. Communication Breakdown blew everyone away as dusk fell and the lightshow finally managed to be visible on the screens on either side of the stage . 

      Another encore followed and by 10-15 pm Zeppelin had completed their mammoth set and had totally won over the crowd . They finished with a long rock and roll medley composed of classic Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Elvis numbers and the applause seemed to go on forever when they had left the stage .
Although Zeppelin were the headliners, they were wise to have performed early , Hot Tuna were undoubtedly the best of the bands that remained , before incessant rain disrupted the proceedings by interfering with the power supplies and the safety of the artists onstage

   Tuna were hot and heavy and their blues set was dominated by lengthy jams featuring the guitar play of Jorma Kaukonen and the bass virtuosity of Jack Cassidy . Marty Balin on vocals played a less prominent role than he does the more vocally dominated Airplane material .

    It was Country Joe McDonalds misfortune to bring the rain with him when he went onstage just after midnight . Drizzle fell on and off for the rest of the night but this did not dampen Joe's spirits as he delivered the familiar Fish cheer and the feel like Iím fixing to die  twice , with the crowd chanting along with great enthusiasm . 

    The Airplane featured many of their greatest hits , although White Rabbit was left out of the menu., possibly this would have been played eventually but after 50 or so minutes the band were forced to leave the stage when guitarist Paul Kantner became concerned over the chances of receiving an electric shock due to the rain that was being blown over onto the sound equipment . The set was terminated , much to the disappointment of the fans who had waited for hours to see this most famous of the west coast bands. Although the band had played well , the set was marred by poor sound .

      To quote Grace Slick as she left the stage :

"its too wet . We can't play . We'll just get electrocuted . They donít have summers like this in new York."

    There then followed ( yet another )lengthy delay .But the Byrds came to the rescue by playing an amazing acoustic set which included many traditional numbers as well as their regular songs .As dawn broke the audience refused to let them go and were singing along on many of the tunes. It was an epic set that lasted around some two and a half hours . 

  The Moody Blues , who had overcome the traffic jams by using a helicopter to travel to the site, were unable to play due to the wet conditions .

   Dr John finished the proceedings at the unearthly hour of 6am - he delivered a great set , but there were relatively few who waited another age for him to arrive onstage and he played to a much reduced crowd , although this did not blunt his enthusiasm or that of his band. Gumbo personified, the good Dr delivered an energetic set of N'Orleans rock  that saw the festival out on a damp but happy note.

John Holmes

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Ross Mortimore's streaming Quicktime movie of the crowd features clear images of the stage PA , Colosseum onstage and bikers with Canned Heat at Bath as a soundtrack provided courtesy of Bob C .

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To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Bath Festival we have brought out a special commemorative set. Anyone interested can view it on

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