30 June 1979, by RAB
mind the music
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
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.
was topped off by Steve Hillage. Hillage is completely in his
element outdoors, communing with nature and sending wave after
wave of synthesized guitar over the crowd who were loving it.
He did the old favorites 'Hurdy Gurdy Man', 'Light in the Sky'
and 'Motivation Radio'. His performance was supposed to be 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.
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 camp fire. John Williams is a beautiful
guitarist wasting his time with this crossover stuff.
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
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.
was John Martyn and Peter Gabriel to come because of the 12 o'clock
curfew. Martin did his usual echo loop trip to great effect and
to high applause, and I much preferred him to the super-crowd
we ended 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
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
it to 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 really
matter. I think I'll leave it there.
Dixon, find enclosed a copy of my review of Glastonbury
1979, enclosed only for the mention of the pop group.Not
my greatest piece I'll admit but there's a story to that....
... I was contracted to do the first day and a half of the
79 Glastonbury and one of the staffers was supposed to cover
the other half. So I roll into [work] about half nine on
the monday morning with my copy all written and a deadline
of 12 noon. No prob, ring the printers and dictate it to
a copy taker. But when I get through the guy asks rather
panically whether I stayed the whole weekend. Well of course
we did, you don't go home half way through a festival do
you? Great he says can you re-write your stuff and expand
to cover the whole festival cos the staffer got so smashed
he didn't even make it out of the car park, let alone see
the bands. All my notes are at home and there's no time
to go get them, so all I could do was to take an early lunch
and repair to the pub accross the road for a very sweaty
hour or so trying to lash this together. "lunch! what you
mean lunch! you only just got here!" said my boss, but bless
them they were very indulgent with me.
for writing this article in 1979 and scanning it in 2004.