Good music, bad vibes at free Hyde Park
THE MUSIC at the Free Concert in Hyde Park last Saturday was good, but the vibrations were bad.
Some 40,000 people sat in sweltering heat under a black sky, and black was the mood of the crowd. I saw one young man hit full on the back of his neck with a beer bottle because he was standing. He was led away with blood streaming down his neck. Also the Hell’s Angel’s brought their usual brand of violence with them. Acting as unofficial policemen they hit anyone whom they thought was getting in their way, and took great delight in riding their bikes through the crowd. Back stage the vibes were bad too. The stewards would let no-one sit in the enclosure at the front or the stage, and one man in a leather hat took great delight in pushing people around.
Formerly Fat Harry, opening the show, played their own brand of good time music. The best number in their act had the lines, “You need a whole lot more of Jesus, and a lot less rock and roll” — maybe they could sense the growing tension in the crowd. Next on was Kevin Ayers and the Whole World, who treated us to 45 minutes of boring and unmelodic noises.
Then on came the New Left’s favourite group, Edgar Broughton. Arriving on stage to a loud cheer, they had everyone on their feet dancing and singing. Despite constant shouts for ‘Out Demons, Out’, Edgar waited till his last number to sing his theme song. After two bars of ‘Demons’ peace signs were flying left, right and centre.
After Broughton, Roy Harper did an unscheduled set for nearly an hour. During his first song ‘I Hate The White Man’, Roy saw the violence that was threatening the concert, and concluded that it was “typical of the white man.” Roy also played ‘Same Old Rock’, and ended with his political satire song ‘Kangaroo Blues’, which brought howls of laughter from all around.
Bill-topping Pink Floyd went on stage last, but the beauty of their music was lost to the birds and the trees. Using their usual stereo arid complex sound system they played some oldies like ‘Green Is The Colour’, and ‘Set The Controls For The Heart of the Sun’, which came over well, even though half the sounds just disappeared.
For their last number, ‘Atom Heart Mother’ — an electric symphony — they were joined by a 20 strong chorus and ten brass. The piece, which seemed to go on for eternity, was scratchy and unfortunately the freelance musicians put nothing into it.
© Mark Plummer, Melody Maker, 25 July 1970