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.
|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.
| 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
First came the band and
At a suitably tense interval he was there ,wading on stage like Liberace under
On stage he moved , dancing with the speed
| 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 accompaniment 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.
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.
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.
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.
Read page two of this review
The Bickershaw Menu
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Updated June 2021
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