Glastonbury Fair, 23 Jun 1979

25 Jun 1979
on the road
Never mind the music
Or: old hippies never die

from the mag

Glastonbury Fair

WE KNEW we were getting close when policemen started to appear at 50 yard intervals along the hedgerow lanes. Security from being hassled for being human is a prime concern at these three day thrashes, and little has changed in the cop-heart over the last eight years. Near the entrance they moved to pull us over, saw the press sticker and thought better of it. We thought about all the other unfortunates who didn't have immunity riding on the windshield.

First on Thursday were Mirage, an eight piece soul-funk-reggae mix who got us going in the drizzle and really showed what the sound system could do (when working). After what seemed like hours there was the Ronny Paisley Band, whose rather average rock and funk left me cold.

Thursday night was topped off by Steve Hillage. Hillage is completely in his element outdoors, communing with nature and sending wave after wave of synthesised guitar over the crowd who were loving it. He did the old favourites Hurdy Gurdy Man, Light In The Sky and Motivation Radio. His performance was supposed to he capped by a spectacular laser pyramid projected over the audience, but something got broken so all we got was one thin beam like an usherette torch raking the sky and showing God to his seat. A bit weak really.

Friday was beautiful in all respects except the music. Generator failure was the cause. First it blew a fuse through The Only Ones set, and when they resumed on half power an hour later they lasted two numbers before it ran out of diesel. Mike Kelly refused to leave this time and just kept drumming until the power resumed. Later Sky played, which after The Only Ones was a complete anti-climax. I went to sleep beside a campfire. John Williams is a beautiful guitarist wasting his time with this crossover stuff.

By Saturday there were so many groups left to play that the panic really set in. Johnny Copin opened with Wishy Washy, very West Coast laid back stuff and somewhere after him and before the Pop Group I went completely out to lunch. I only just came round in time to see them ripping it up, and causing a complete split in the crowd. A little too severe for ageing hippies, obviously. Things were actually thrown at them. But an encore was granted to fans packing the front of the stage.

Then there was John Martyn and Peter Gabriel to come because of the 12 o'clock curfew. Martyn did his usual echo loop trip to great effect and to high applause, and I much preferred him to the super-crowd we wound up with, which consisted of Gabriel plus Alex Harvey, Tom Robinson and Nona Hendryx all jamming, taking it in turn to do each other's numbers (quite a few of Robinson's as I remember) and being hailed as long-lost heroes. I lost interest by then and was concentrating on shaping up right and getting the tent down.

So what can you say? As a festival it was a success, but as a music event it flopped badly as at least half the bands billed never made the stage. Still, as the organisers were at pains to point out, the event was about people getting together, having a good time and falling over a lot. There was enough to do on the site with theatre and other events, and the lack of music didn't realty matter. I think I'll leave it there.


This review was published in an unknown magazine and I had to guess the date. The picture was taken by Paul Slattery so there's a fair chance the story ran in Sounds.