I THOUGHT I’d just wander down to Hyde Park, lay under a tree and quietly listen to the music. However, it seems that Blackhill organisers Peter Jenner and Andrew King had spread the word, because approximately 100,000 other people invaded Her Majesty’s Park to sit and keep me company!
The Free Concerts in the Park have now become an institution and are a nice way to spend a summer’s afternoon, not only for the musical rewards but also for the social implications. Somehow these events tend to bring people just that little bit closer together, with everyone joining in the spirit of things.
Lol Coxhill opened the proceedings with an unaccompanied 20-minute soprano saxophone solo before making way for Formerly Fat Harry.
The group, which includes ex-Country Joe sideman Bruce Barthol, are now becoming familiar faces on the Festival scene and a good addition to any afternoon’s entertainment.
Ex-Soft Machiner, Kevin Ayers and the Whole World was joined by another of his old sidekicks Robert Wyatt in a lengthy programme of truly original material. Along with the Machine and the Floyd they represent some of the finest progressive ideas formulating in this country.
Everyone was waiting for Edgar Broughton. So he had no difficulty in getting the masses on their feet to clap their hands and sing along during ‘Refugee’ and their anthem ‘Out Demons Out’, which featured Peter Jenner on the sidelines.
To help calm the crowd down, Roy Harper, resplendent in a new short hair-cut, entertained with a selection of his very personal and probing statements.
More than any group that I can think of, the Pink Floyd are the most ideal electric band to relax to in the clean fresh air. Having mastered all the technical intricacies of their chosen style they use it to full advantage. Indeed, their internal sound balance must be second to none.
After presenting a programme of sound stories, which included ‘Set The Controls To The Heart Of The Sun’, they were augmented on stage by a brass section and choir to present their extended work ‘Epic’ which they premiered at Bath.
As the complete ensemble reached a resounding climax, the park echoed to stereo applause.
With a cool breeze tempering the heat of the day the crowd quietly drifted away, leaving artists and friends to enjoy a delightful meal in the Dell Restaurant overlooking the calm of the Serpentine as the shadows lengthened.
© Roy Carr, New Musical Express, 25 July 1970