Camden Fringe Free festival. Parliament Hill Fields. Hampstead Heath.
Astronomy Domine. , Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun. Careful With That Axe Eugene , A Saucerful Of Secrets.
Naturally , after the Swansea gig, we were completely bitten
by the Floyd bug and when we saw the opportunity to see them free at the
Camden Fringe Festival , we pestered the parents to let us hitch hike up
to london to see them . Unfortunately we went as a threesome, which was
not such a good idea. After getting a lift to Gloucester together we struck
decidedly bad luck and after an hour or so we had to split up - as we would
miss seeing the fesitval if we didn't make better time -muggins being the
one to volunteer to go on his own .
I got a lift almost immediately from a West Indian driving a truck belonging to Rolls Royce and I asked him if he could take the other two as well. " No fooking way man " , he rasped in his deep gravelly patois, "I can only take ONE " so I abandoned Alan and Mac to their fate and got in the cab. I had an entertaining lift with this guy who regaled me with stories of his native isle , I can't remember which island he came from ,but it had lots of Aluminium mines.
the time I got to Hampstead Heath, it was early evening , but the festival was
not underway, like all free events , it had a schedule of its own and acts came
and went after long intervals. It was a fun gig, the usual London crowd of far
out hippies, some staright looking types busy rubbernecking ,badly disguised
drug squad officers and afgan coats galore.It was a nice crowd, few had come
to see any of the bands play their greatest hits and therefore everyone felt
free to play whatever they wished. Roy
Harper may have been a no show that night ( see below ) , whilst
Jody Grind, T Rex and the
Pretty Things all strutted
their stuff admirably. The estimable Pete
Brown and the Battered Ornaments did an excellent set, with Pete
as usual attempting to strangle himslef onstage with his errant , uncontrollable
hand , encased in its little black glove. This was VERY good. However, it was
primarily the Floyd I had really come to see and they played early on as they
were double booked that night to play also at Portsmouth.
It was pretty much the same set that they played at Swansea, but
in those intervening months they had become far more experimental in their
music, with extended ventures into some VERY weird sounds.
In this regard ,Gilmour was the most impressive. At one point , he was down on the stage floor, straddling his axe, a fixed expression of concentration on his face, coaxing out the most intensely creepy and strange notes from his guitar that I've heard this side of Hendrix and late 1960s Grateful Dead feedback sessions.
He was developing some of the sounds that would eventually be used on Echoes, those piercing , endless primeval noises that seemingly came somewhere not of this planet and which always conjured up in my mind the images of remote unfriendly worlds inhabited by unseen creatures of malign intent . It wasn't easily digestable stuff, but then, this era of Floyd music was NOT hit parade fodder , it challenged you to like it , in essence the band were prepared to atke risks and the auidnce had to come along for the ride, if you fell off along the way, too bad . I perhaps would not have wanted to have been tripping listening to this nights output , one might not have ever come back down again .......
In fact this is one of the chief reasons why I hold this era Floyd in such high esteem. This was getting OUT THERE in a serious manner . Certainly, in terms of taking risks with the music , this had to be the furthest out Floyd gig I saw. I'm pretty sure they played a long time, even though the set list looks rather short. It certainly did not feel like I'd been shortchanged, far from it , I just wish I had a tape of the gig.......
The show finished in the wee small hours, way after the last buses had gone back to sculk in their sheds. I walked back the whole way to Hammersmith from Hampstead, and then hitched back to Wales. Those were the days when you could still walk around London late at night and not worry about getting beaten up by skinheads. By the time I got home I'd not slept for about 30 hours. Never did see my friends there either, even though they did apparently attend the gig and shared similar views to my own .