The Archive. Last modified August 2008
The Watchfield Free Festival 23-31st August 1975.
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Of course , the bands who played at Watchfield and the other free festivals of the latter half of the 70s were NOT the superstars of the age. The Stones had done their free festival dash at Altamont and most of the other rock royalty had never been ones to give their services for no financial or publicity related gain , so it was the idealists who came to play for free , Gong, Hawkwind, Here and Now, Zorch , Roy Harper and others .
The 75 Watchfield festival featured these bands but there were far more groups who played , a full list would now be obscured by the mists of time .
Cover of Hawkwind at Watchfield
and Now actually came together as an " official" entity at Watchfield,
more ( or less )organised by such well known underground luminaries as Kif Kif
and the legendary Twink of Here and Now / Karma Kanix / Gong fame (other wise
known as Paul Noble and not to be confused with the OTHER legendary Twink of
the Pink Fairies ! ) , this band went on to be intimately associated with the
Stonehenge festival .
Here and Now had played at Windsor in 1974 , but the Watchfield show was the first time that it seemed that the band could become more than an occasional outfit that only played once a year when the members met at the free festivals.
Craig was at Watchfield. He made this list of bands he saw and rated their performances out of 10
White as White and Twice as Dirty (Twice) 8
Human Abstract 6
Warp III 8
East Of Eden 8
Jon Owen ,from Global Village Trucking Company sent us this recently about his set at Watchfield.
hello I remember playing a solo set at watchfield. it was just before Gong on the main stage. my main recollection is of having a field of people singing along to Give a little love, get a little love. I remember this specifically as Watchfield was kind of scary in that there were many different camps of people- the ex Windsor freaks, bands of pseudo angels, sightseers etc. There was a hard edge it it all.
I suppose I was also a bit nervous as it was the fIrst time I had done one of these things without the support of the rest of The Global Village Trucking Co.
Sorry must go as my yougest child appears to be destroying his brother's entire lego fleet. Some things never change ay!
Jon Owen ex Glob
One of Hawkwinds shows was recorded from either 8-23-or 8-25-75- . 85 minutes worth, which is probably worth seeking if you are a fan . Gong's show is out there on the tradelist circuit and is also a 2cd affair.
Watchfield 75- You Shouldn't Do That, Brainstorm, Magnu, Paradox .Circles, I Am The Eye, Slap It On The Table
Dave Brock- Guit /vocals , Paul Rudolph (bass), Andy Dunkeley (electronics), Alan Powell (drums) and Nik Turner (sax).
Thanks to Nik Lowenberg for this information regarding the Gong set.
Magick Mother Invocation > Master Builder, Bombalay >Jam > Solar Musick Suite, Isle of Everywhere > Get It Inner, Flying Teapot > I Never Glid Before. Encore: Improvisation
(NB : This show is commonly distributed on two Cd's but I found it can sit happilly on a 74 minute disc - but my version may be missing the encore - Ed )
(i'm not sure if Miquette Giraudy was onstage...she does not sing, but she may have been doing some electronics/synths):
Steve Hillage: guitar, vocals
Mike Howlett: bass
Didier Malherbe: sax, flute
Patrice Lemoine: keyboards
Pierre Moerlen: drums
The quality is great, probably the audience taper was sitting pretty close, either that or he had some very nice equipment. I'd give it a strong A.( I would rate it a B to B+-Ed ) The performance is outstanding, seriously one of the best performances I've heard by the band. The only show I've heard compare is their show in Rome two months earlier (opening for Henry Cow and Robert Wyatt) which is also simply outstanding. The reason I would say that this performance is so good is that everyone in the band is 'on'. Hillage is in top form and playing some of the best solos of his career. His guitar is truly awe-inspiring. Patrice Lemoine's electric piano (borrowed from East of Eden) fits in perfectly and his playing is great as well. This show was also the return of drummer Pierre Moerlen, who had left in august '74, so he must have injected a lot of energy into the performance. Mike Howlett's bass is also perfect, flowing seamlessly throughout.
There are some that feel Gong died with Daevid Allen's departure. Allen created Gong, but he did not finish it. The Gong of 1975 left behind many of Allen's words in order to let the music say a little bit more. After all, Gong is not just one person, it's a group of people gathered to create a vibe. Gong's purpose, and one of Allen's main purposes, was to communicate with audience, wether this be with words or music. In my opinion the music could often times speak louder than the words. Gong's music during the Summer of '75 was truly special. Before the instrumental jazz and after the pixie poems was a version of Gong which played true cosmic music, gauranteed to blow your mind.
Here some of Steve Hillage's comments from the stage between songs:
(introducing Bombalay) "We would now like to play the world national anthem of all chillum smokers...."
(after Solar Musick Suite) "Well...that's a little bit of an indication of what it's all about."
(speech after Isle of Everywhere) "We'd like you to direct your loving energies en masse to East of Eden, because they've lent us all their gear. You see our gear isn't here. See there's a landing expected of, uh, certain small green entities in Holland...and our gear has gone out to greet them. We're going out tomorrow...gear, our ear, our geeeear. And so, uh, we've borrowed East of Eden's gear. It's very very kind. So thank you very much, that was really nice of them. <applause> And so we'd like to blast you off into another skydrunk night with a very energetic piece...actually, actually, if you, if you get this, this is a hand you see..I think...it's a human hand I see before me. You look at it...I think you might have one actually...it's a human hand nd there's another one here. If you put them together it makes a funny noise...like that...it's quite nice y'know. So, anyway, maybe uh, maybe uh...we could do that."
(announcing the encore) "Now you all don't mind if we play a little bit more...bombalay shiva. Now we're going to do what's known in the biz as an improvisation. In which your part is vital."
(at the end of the show) "We'd also like to thank Nik Turner from Hawkwind for the saxaphone" to which someone in the audience replies "Nice one Nik!"
Isle of Everywhere introduced as the "Octave Doctors".
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Free rock festivals of the 70s and 80s
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