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Last update March 2009

The Knebworth Park Festivals.

Oh God, Not Another Boring Old Knebworth: 9-9-78.

The Tubes, Frank Zappa, Peter Gabriel, Boomtown Rats, Rockpile, Wilko Johnson's Solid Senders

The crowd at the September bash © Henry Cobbold, Knebworth House

   The second of the two Knebworth concerts held in 1978  at the park by veteran promoter Freddy Bannister was, by his own account , an afterthought. Following the concert in June with Genesis, it occurred to him that it seemed a shame that the giant stage (which was one of the main costs of staging such a mammoth show,) had to be dismantled when it could be used again . He made enquiries ,found that it could be kept in situ until September at a very low cost and made the decision to go ahead with another gig.

   So the search was on for another list of artists who were free in September and who would draw a crowd of around 40,000 ( which for the first time, because the staging costs would be minimal , would be a profitable number to have attend the concert ).

   Bannister found a very good selection of bands to star in this second show, and , because the costs were low , he could be a bit more adventurous in his choice of acts. Thus we see a rather more offbeat Knebworth than usual, with Zappa and The Tubes as headliners (and the ever strange Peter Gabriel as support ) which would attract a crowd that were more likely to be attuned to the bizarre than the usual Knebworth punters. In retrospect, Devo would have fitted in better for this show that they would have at the Genesis bash earlier on in the year.

click image to view posters of all Knebworth concerts.

   So it was a much more adventurous Knebworth than usual and overall , with dry if rather windy weather, a very enjoyable one both musically and environmentally, with far smaller traffic jams and less litter accumulating than in the mega shows. Almost all the acts went down really well, as all were pretty high energy outfits , because Bannister had included some bands such as The Solid Senders and Boomtown Rats, who could be loosely considered as "New Wave " .

Left: Cathy whoops it up front of stage on the Friday night before the concert, Photo © Parcan


   Peter Gabriel was the first act to really get the crowd going , as he was accompanied onstage by a large stuffed Panda , which he took with him as he scaled the stage scaffolding , delivering his vocals with the aid of an FM mic . He also ventured into the crowd on two occasions and took the mickey out of Bob Geldorf during a punked up version of "A Whiter Shade of Pale ". This did not go down well with Rats fans and some cans were thrown in Gabriel's direction. However, calm was restored swiftly when the impersonations ceased and the Big G finished off his set with a hot version of ' The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway "


    Frank Zappa was more low key than expected as he concentrated on musical content and did not feature some of the theatricality that would have gone down well at such a large event .

   Minus the frenzied rudity of Flo and Eddie (long gone by this era ) , this was a polished set of largely new numbers which were not guaranteed to wow the crowds with nostalgia , but many of which ( such as" Bobby Brown" and "Dancin' Fool " , became regulars in the Zappa live offerings).

    The Tubes were extremely well received by the audience and were joined by Todd Rundgren onstage for a pre-rehearsed finale of two Who tunes, "Baba O'Reilly" and "The Kids Are Alright " as a tribute to the recently deceased drummer of The Who, Keith Moon.


The stage - used for two shows in 1977

      The police had insisted on providing far more officers than were needed as they thought the audience was going to be far larger and (due to the inclusion of the " new wave ' acts ), far more unruly than usual. As it turned out there was very little for them to do once the show had begun and a number of them were observed playing cricket on the outskirts of the arena .

There Must Be A Better Way

The abridged Knebworth commemorative set There Must Be A Better Way is now available at £75, plus postage - it contains the following:

The flyers, programmes and tickets from 3 of the following festivals:
1974 Allman Brothers, Tim Buckley, Alex Harvey
1975 Pink Floyd Steve Miller Captain Beefheart
1978 Genesis - Jefferson Airplane
1978 Frank Zappa, The Tubes, Peter Gabriel
1979 Led Zeppelin, New Barbarians
A boxed set of 30 photographs from the festivals.
A video containing Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rolling Stones, Genesis and Led Zeppelin in either PAL or NTSC
A hard backed book with all the behind the scene stories.

and as a SPECIAL FREE GIFT to anyone purchasing the set we give 5 live CDs from Knebworth plus a Rolling Stones DVD
You may read an impartial review here go to 'reviews'

You may pay in instalments if you wish. After the initial payment of £25, plus postage the set is sent to you and you are then charged three monthly instalments of £25.
email for further details


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A Midsummer Night's Dream -Knebworth 6-24-78

Can we get a witness ?

We have been endeavouring to collect as many recordings of the artists that featured at these concerts as possible, so we can effectively review the performances, provide set lists and band line-ups. Any info displayed on these pages or which is sent to us for review remains the copyright of the contributor and the Archive makes NO PROFIT from its use. The intention is to also display as many personal histories of the festival as possible for the benefit of readers of the site and we welcome all written contributions, no matter how long or short.

If you can contribute in any way, with audio , reviews , photos or personal histories, please Contact us

Knebworth Concerts 1974-86


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