Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Every gig I've Ever Seen #51 Tolpuddle Martyrs

Battersea Park. July 29th. 1985

A gig to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Can you imagine that happening now?! Another day of music. Free in a London Park!

Wandered off to see Jimmy Page playing on a small stage with Roy Harper. THE Jimmy Page. THE Roy Harper. Roy had sung “Have a Cigar” for Pink Floyd. Led Zeppelin wrote “Hats Off To Roy” about him. The songs were OK but I didn’t quite get it. Usual feeling of “big brother music”. Now, though, I think albums like “Stormcock” are amazing. Sigh, youth. Roy looked a bit untogether on stage. I’d seen them recently interviewed on the Old Grey Whistle Test, halfway up a mountain in Wales. Roy was a bit shot in those days and they came over as very defensive. Was he mad? I’ve got video of Roy playing Stonehenge Festival that same year, which says a lot about him. No rock star he, living in a rock star pad.

John Sebastian. He was at Woodstock and his whole act and performance was the same, pretty much. He’s ripped to the tits in Woodstock but if you see footage from other festivals of the time he acts the same way. All tie-die and goofy. “ Do You Believe in Magic?” and “Daydream”. I didn’t mind but it seemed, well, a bit sad. What do you do after something like Woodstock? Still, you didn’t see Woodstock legends every day of the week and at least we knew the words!

Christy Moore was amazing. He was the Guv’nor of folk in the 80s. Big powerful voice, beautiful guitar playing. He did one song about all the young Irish men who’ve come to London over the decades for gold and end up drinking on the streets of Camden and can’t go home to Ireland. Lost souls. I saw the London Irish in a different light after that song. Proper folk music.

Paul Butterfield Blues band were sixties Rock Legends. Like an American John Mayall’s Blues Breakers. The hub of serious white blues. His guitar was dirty and loud. It had a presence that the British pub rock I’d heard didn’t have. Maybe it was Civil Rights or the Draft and Vietnam or the assassinations of King and the Kennedys, but American Sixties guitar was an altogether angrier beast. The Stooges and MC5 couldn’t have come from Chipping Sodbury.

Alan Price did the one about Simon’s amazing, dancing bear. He was in the Animals and gets all the royalties from their biggest hit, “House of The Rising Sun”, much to his bandmates’ chagrin.

A nice day out. Once the GLC was scrapped these gigs stopped.



  1. I was there too, I´m quite sure it was in 1984. I saw Paul Butterfield Blues band on the big stage and Jimmy playing with Roy Harper at the small stage, the striped tent ceiling one. I sat right in front of Jimmy Page. The guy simply colored each of the Roy songs with stunning guitar sounds. indescribable.. That was just before they formed "The Firm".

    I´ve been reading about the existence of a 40 mins audience recording of that. do you know something about it? I´d love to hear it!

    well, thanks a lot for your post, I´ve been searching the web for details about that event but I´ve never found anything about it.

    best regards,

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  3. I was there too as a voluntary helper for stage security. Me and my comrades were all there helping the GLC. Yes it was in 29th July 1984. First I was at the main stage where John Sebastian played, suddenly an elder pair asked me if I could give John a notice - the pair were the parents of Mr. Sebastian - they were there to surprise John. I had to go on stage to give the notice to John. He first thought that is a song wish, he was totally surprised seeing his parents. We had to go to the third and smallest stage cos there were more people than anywhere else! They told me Jimmy Page was coming - I said no way! But aftere arriving at the third stage woooww Jimmy Page started playing with the Roy Harper band. I had to go on stage cos no room was left... hahahhaaa
    After the concert Mr. Page was arrested in front of me for posession of cocaine....
    Crazy times.