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The Crystal Palace Garden Parties.

Sept 10th 1977.


Elvis Costello,

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes,

Brand X


ticket courtesy Michael Poole

Brand X, with Phil Collins back on traps for the occasion, fared decidedly better. The warm, hazy and relaxed afternoon atmosphere worked to their advantage, and I found myself forgetting that I'd heard a handful of American bands do it just as well (this is in fact a compliment to Brand X) and just soaking it up. Brand X, as we all know, sound like Weather Report, with some of the homogenous and stoic feel of ECM jazz mixed in. The main attractions of their music are its mood and its technical dexterity. Individually the band are all great players (especially the sweet and fluid guitarist) but what they do together relies more on virtuosity than on any corporate intentions as a band - a subtle difference between them and Weather Report.

    After a special appearance by a plucky streaker, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes took to the stage. They looked resplendent, if a little out of place, in their real sharp suits, and the crowd greeted them like they knew they were in for a good time. Sad to say that the Jukes didn't quite deliver. This band is usually a better bet live than they are on record. The revamped '60s soul revue makes sense in the sweaty environment of a live gig, but just sounds like high quality nostalgia on disc. However, at an outdoor, daytime affair all the in-concert qualities are lost, and they ended up looking like a bunch of clowns wearing dumb suits.

    Southside, without his shades because of the daylight, overplayed his part to the point where the impenetrable New Jersey accent came off as a big act; the stage antics of the rest of the band seemed equally contrived. Deliberate high jinks that extended the excitement about a foot beyond the stage and left the crowd as spectators on the Asbury Jukes' time-warp.

    This was no fault of their own really, since they played a good set that was much the same as on their previous visit, but the environment was definitely unsympathetic. Their music demands a spirit of participation in the nostalgic exercise for full reward, and it didn't happen - as was proved by the fact that they got less of a response when they left the stage than when they came on.

    Brand X went over better because the mood of their music better suited the afternoon's ambience. Curiously though, the best response thus far and the first standing ovation of the day - went to the streaker.

    Costello himself seemed prepared for any eventuality - which you certainly couldn't say about his band, The Attractions, or the guy who mixed the sound . For most of the set, both Costello's guitar and Bruce Thomas' bass were practically inaudible, with the result that the over-abundance of Steve Manson's pipe organ and Pete Thomas' drums evoked an impression of surreal nostalgia reminiscent of The Mysterians. From the moment Costello (garbed in tight black suit, dark blue shirt and brown shoes) lurched into "Welcome To The Workday Week", he gave the distinct impression that he was performing with repressed anger.

    This was the first time that Costello had come face-to-face with a large audience, but there was to be absolutely no compromise on his behalf. His obvious ploy would have been to re-play his album and ensure a positive response. No way. Of the 14 songs he performed in quick-fire succession, only "Less Than Zero", "Red Shoes", "Miracle Man" and the closing "Mystery Dance" are available on record. It was almost as if Costello was putting both the audience and himself to test. I'm not sure what his motives were - maybe he's masochistic - but he sure as hell went about it the hard way.

    The PA certainly didn't help. As the lyrical content of Costello's material is very wordy, the impact of such newer songs as "There's No Action", "Lipstick Vogue", "I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea", "Lipservice", "Radio, Radio" and the incredible "Watching The Detectives" was lost on the breeze. Had Costello had more experience of working such a large audience he'd have pulled the gig off without too much difficulty. As it was, there seemed to be a certain degree of resistance emanating from both sides of the pond, with the result that he scooted-off to a polite trickle of applause and no encore.

    Building their programme around the more familiar highlights from their first three albums, Carlos & Co also sprinkle their set with more recent tracks like "Let The Children Play" and a thoroughly bizarre latinised rework of The Zombies' "She's Not There". However, long before the set reached its logical conclusion the incessant rattling of pots and pans became somewhat overpowering. Aside from "Black Magic Wornan" and an instrumental ballad (the title of which eludes me), the only respite was C. Santana's stylish ability to overlay the recurring rhythm patterns with regular forceful guitar breaks and sustained sub-sonic one-note aerobatics.

    Apart from the inebriated gent observed threatening the St. John ambulance ladies trying to lay him on a blanket and take his photograph, it was a quiet, nay peaceful, Saturday afternoon at Crystal Palace Garden Party.

Despite his most manful efforts to arouse the crowds stretched out in the warm autumn sunlight, even the kindest of critics would have agreed that he died the death. At one point I observed exactly two people out of an estimated crowd of 20,000 clapping and they were both in the press enclosure.
Whatever happened to all his fans?
    To be fair to Elvis his big problem was a strong breeze blowing towards the stage carrying most of his fine words and heartfelt sentiments back into the shell-shaped concert bowl. Manager Jake Riviera who rushed out into the audience came back reporting that you could hardly hear a note. The p.a. system seemed to be operating at only half power, and I suddenly realised that at only a few feet away from the horn cabinets it was possible to conduct a perfectly normal conversation. I could imagine that Elvis in a club situation would he quite powerful, but either due to nerves or frustration he did not seem to know how to pace his set.
    One number followed another with barely a pause, and most of the audience had obviously never heard the material before. Thus songs like "Welcome To The Working Week," "No Action," "Less Than Zero," and "Lip Service" had no effect. I had a nagging feeling that I had heard the main theme that forms the basis of many of Costello's songs before somewhere. The melody of "Listen To The Falling Of The Rain," kept recurring. But then he is probably using the pop song structure merely as a vehicle in order to provide ironic contrast with his own bitter thoughts. I enjoyed the band however, featuring Pete Thomas (drums), Bruce Thomas (bass) and Steve Mason (keyboards).
    It was a day of worthies, without any real excitement. Crawler and Brand X kicked off the day, the latter playing a workmanlike set before rushing off to France for another festival gig. Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes were excellent, a raunchy rock and soul band who reminded me of Zoot Money's Big Roll Band of the 1964 era, or even the original Amen Corner. They sported a tailgating trombone player with a tone a mile wide, while Southside John in his white suit kept the soul licks a'coming. Applause came freely and the feeling of Sixties nostalgia was heightened when they played "You Don't Know Like I Know," the old Sam & Dave anthem. They were greeted with a tumult of huzzahs.

El Morocco - Let The Children Play/Jugando - Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen - Dance Sister Dance (Baila Mi Hermana) - Europa - I'll Be Waiting - Oye Como Va - Samba Pa Ti - She's Not There - Savor/Toussaint L'Overture - Here And Now/Soul Sacrifice - Evil Ways

977-09-10: London, Crystal Palace Garden Party
Elvis Costello with the Attractions
(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes - song order uncertain
Mystery Dance
Welcome To The Working Week
Lipstick Vogue
Watching The Detectives
Miracle Man
(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea
Less Than Zero
Lipstick Vogue
No Action
Radio Radio

I remembered going to Crystal Palace Bowl in 1977, worked this out from the year I started work. I checked the web and found your great site, and it brought it all back so vividly. I am a big fan of Santana, and remember being blown away on that day, but then I was a impressionable sixteen year old who believed in Peace etc, and who hadn't been being tainted by years of cynicism!
Regarding Elvis Costello, I do recall people jeering him to get off.
Thanks again for the good memories.

Colin Padley.


77 was my first open air gig at 16 but I remember it well. The main thing i remember was the punks trying to push the costello stuff with luminous green tubes being swung around and t shirts IF IT AINT STIFF IT AINT WORTH A FUCK. They could not sell the shirts as they were obscene but they pinned a costello badge on them and sold the badges for 10 pounds and gave the shirt away, this was ok. I also remember I didnt have a ticket but my brother who had his said not to worry I would get one there. We went to a pub nearby and I bought one there so i was happy, walking to the bowl I was eating some biscuits and when we got to the gate(wire fence) I flashed the biscuit and didnt show the ticket and walked through! What a waste of money!

I remember the dukes & brand X but would have taken more notice if I knew Collins was on drums. Crawler would have now been my highlight as Free hit the spot later but missed listening to them totally. We really only went for Santana as we tried to catch him whenever he came to UK.

Paul Tebbutt

Perth W Australia

watching a Santana concert on TV recently reminded me of this day andso found your site via google.
I got there winning tickets on Capital FM.
Nicky Horne DJ (then Capital Radio "Your Mother wouldn't like it" now still on Planet Rock) was the master of ceremonies.

Don't remember Crawler at all. Forgot Brand X were there but do nowremember enjoying them as I had seen them before and knew and liked their
stuff. I was also overawed by the fact the Genesis front man was there (this was pre his solo singing exploits). Southside Johnny were to me ok, but agree they probably do (as they are still on the road) work better in a small venue where people dance. I remember Elvis Costello being very good but the crowd not really getting it, I think to a lot of people there he was relatively unknown then.

The streaker did cause a stir , Nicky Horne I recall making some remark like "I didn't know you were Jewish as well". There were also complaints
of people swimming through the small lake in front of the stage to get a better view, citing there were electric cables in it.

Santana were very good and Latin Rock suited such a hot day. Though I think the sun must have only come out in the afternoon, because only half of my face got sun burnt. Resorting to the then popular "Close Encounters" reference of "He looks like a 50 50 bar".
There was also the nightmare of getting from south London to North London by public transport as none of us could drive then.

Didn't remember the tickets were relatively that cheap. As an LP album was around £3 , so I didn't win such a big prize. But then again £5 would buy
you 10 pints! (old gittizms are increasing daily) As one type of "Hope" we've lost used to say, "Thanks for the memories".
Phil Fitzsimons

Garden party features

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