Sunday, August 21, 2016

40 Year Itch : Knebworth '76

On August 21, 1976, 250-thousand fans --some naked, some high --attended the Knebworth Festival, including Linda and Paul McCartney and David Gimour. The Rolling Stones headlined the UK rock festival, but the  highlight was Lynyrd Skynyrd's scorching performance. The Alabama rockers followed Utopia on stage. "America's Confederate rockers" would be releasing their live album, One More From the Road, in September and were in peak form. 

They were followed by 10cc, in what I believe is their final performance as the original quartet. They may have had the best sound but they had a hard time winning over the crowd who were anxious to see the Rolling Stones. They rocked out on a ten minute version of  "Rubber Bullets" before saying goodnight.

Conditions at Knebworth were fairly miserable. Long lines for bathrooms and drinking water. A naked hippie raced on stage and pleasured himself in front of the crowd. When he was finished he grabbed a mike and said "Sorry for keeping you waiting for so long".

The Rolling Stones came on hours late, in part because some giant lips had to be inflated above the stage. Finally around 11:30 that night , they opened with "Satisfaction". Billy Preston played keyboards. Ron Wood played some hot licks on lead guitar. Despite the recent Lester Bangs obit* for the band, The Rolling Stones were still alive and still mattered.

*There are two things to be said about the new Stones album before closing time: one is that they are still perfectly in tune with the times (ahead sometimes, trendies) and the other is the heat's off, because it's all over, they really don't matter anymore or stand for anything, which is certainly lucky for both them and us. I mean, it was a heavy weight to carry for all concerned. This is the first MEANINGLESS Stones album, and thank God... I don't even hate Black and Blue like the new Led Zep, which admittedly is unworthy of hatred from anybody except a true patriot who expected more than what you knew you were going to get - what you get here is sweet flow Muzak dentist office conversation piece bright eyes shining in the face of nothing at all which they will not even confront and more power to 'em... So thank you for not aspiring: you are an inspiration to the blank generation whole.

Meanwhile in France,  on the way to the Mont de Marsan punk festival , headlined by Eddie and the Hot Rods, Nick Lowe, The Count Bishops and Pink Fairies, The Damned's Ray Burns buys a shirt with epaulettes and exchanges his nickname "Eats" for "Captain Sensible". The Damned's first single, "New Rose", will be released in two months.

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