If You’re Going To Star Alfresco

John Allan from Bridgetown, Western Australia, April 2021

Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair….

Two open air musical experiences, two different decades on two opposing hemispheres 34 years apart.

Firstly, the Reading Festival, 22nd to 25th of August, 1975 and secondly, the Five Peace Band, Kings Park, Perth, Western Australia, 5th February 2009.

Artists :

Reading : Too many to mention (see image). Yes, Hawkwind and Wisbone Ash were the headline acts.

Perth : The Five Peace Band featuring 70s jazz fusion pioneers John McLaughlin and Chick Corea with jazz and rock heavyweights Christian McBride, Vinnie Colaiuti and Kenny Garrett.

In attendance :

R : Teenage me with school chum Ken.

P : 50 plus me with my wife, Pauline.

Travel :

R : Either overnight bus or train from Glasgow to London (can’t really remember). Morning train from London to Reading. Hike from station to venue.

P : Private car from accommodation 1 km away. Pauline driving as I can’t handle city traffic anymore. Arriving a good 2 hours early to find a suitable parking spot – not too close so we can make a swift departure but not too far as we have things to carry.

Accommodation :

R : Newly acquired Woolworth’s nylon one person tent.

P : Friends Swan River waterfront apartment.

Luggage :

R : Rucksack containing tent, sleeping bag, change of T-shirts, jocks and socks.

P : Cool bag containing nibblies, wine and beer. Travel rug and 2 low foldable chairs.

Weather & Conditions :

R : Sunny at times over weekend. Some heavy downpours. Cold nights.

P : Clear skies. Warm balmy evening in the mid 20°s Celsius.

Venue :

R : Farmer’s field. Spread out and sit down where you like. At the end of the gig you’ll have someone’s knees in your back just like yours with the guy in front. You’ll also be 10 yards closer to the stage.

P : Manicured lawn. Chalk lined like a kids road safety floor mat with designated areas for low deck chairs and travel rugs.

Security :

R : Must be somewhere about but I can’t see them.

P : A myriad of matching T-shirt clad uni students with attitude. “Your foot is over the line, sir. Please move back and don’t block the thoroughfare !”

Food & Drink :

R : Don’t remember eating. We must have had some greasy takeaway from one of the many overpriced food trucks at some point. A 2 litre bottle of ‘bitter’ was always to hand though.

P : Goats cheese, tapanade, sundried tomatoes, ciabatta and marinated artichoke hearts washed down with Peroni and Prosecco.

Highlights :

R : I was looking forward to Kokomo, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Alan Stivell who did not disappoint. Some hidden gems were Thin Lizzy and Dr Feelgood. Over all, it was a good mix of artists of the time. I don’t know if it was travel fatigue, disturbed nights sleep or even the copious alcohol consumption but my memory of all 3 main acts is a bit hazy. All I remember was “Ladies and gentleman, Let’s welcome to the stage…………’ and then an explosions of sound and light, “Thank you Reading and goodnight”.

I have vague memories of my ₤2 tent resembling a tea bag and queuing up for the bog with fear of what I might encounter in the cubicle, but these have not remained to haunt me. An unforgettable weekend away.

 P : I was quite excited about seeing such a super group of jazz legends in such a beautiful setting in the capital city but was sorely disappointed. The first 20 to 30 minutes was enjoyable enough until I realised that was only the first number of the set. Each song grew longer as did all the individual solos. I had forgotten how self indulgent this form of music can be. As for the chalk line Nazis, I was ready to swing for one of those smug faced millennials. The highlight was leaving before the encore and getting back to our digs before midnight.

Star rating (out of 10) :

Reading Festival ’75 : ★★★★★★★★

 Kings Park, Perth WA ’09 : ★★★

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