September 30th 1972

“went to Oval pop festival – E.L.P + Focus absolutely brilliant. W.A. not bad. Argent, Genesis – shit / Cort 9.47 /

So what – 36 years later – can I remember of my first ever rock gig?

Actually – and maybe surprisingly – this Oval gig was my one and ONLY rock “festival”, but very much my induction into the “bigger leagues” of music.

I’d love, simply LOVE, to be able to write a long, lengthy piece about the day, reporting that I can clearly remember every nuanced moment, every guitar solo, everything the crowd chanted out or sung along to and the track listing of every act.

But as regular readers will have realised by now realised, this is about as likely as George W Bush admitting he stole the 2000 Presidential election.

Instead I give you these, the very briefest of memories about the day….

 Graham, Trev & I sat on the grass left of centre to the stage about half-way back.
In those days there were no video screens so what we could see was, let’s say, minimal
I remember Peter Gabriel coming out at one point with the big flower head
Fudd was a made up group. They didn’t exist. Mainly to hide the fact that Cream bassist Jack Bruce was going to appear as a surprise guest performer in a lengthy jam session alongside Focus’ Thijs Van Leer and Jan Akkerman. Many people around us thought it was great. I thought it was self-indulgent rambling shit.
ELP had two huge mammoth armadillo-style tanks at each side of the stage which breathed smoke and fire during the band’s performance.
Keith Emerson stabbed his keyboard with knives.
Wishbone Ash were more entertaining than I imagined

E.L.P + Focus absolutely brilliant. W.A. not bad. Argent, Genesis – shit = My succinct review of the day’s proceedings

I took no photos and can remember little else. Which is quite sad – in many ways – for an event that really DID have such an effect on my life then, and later.

An extensive search online yielded one solitary image taken by someone else at the show…

Plus I found tracklistings for Genesis’ set…

• The Knife
• Fountain of Salmacis
• Get ’em out by Friday
• Watcher of the Skies
• The Return of the Giant Hogweed

and Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s…

• Hoedown
• Tarkus
• Endless Enigma
• The Sheriff
• Take a Pebble
• Lucky Man
• Piano Improv
• Take a Pebble
• Pictures At An Exhibition

Isn’t it strange that I can recall little else? You’d think that something so important to me at the time would stick in my memory, but perhaps my mind was somehow on other matters like “How do I get to the loo?” and “Will we catch the train home?” to truly relax and soak up the atmosphere?

I needn’t have worried about missing the train as “cort 9:47” attests.



Filed under 1972 Diary Entries

10 responses to “September 30th 1972

  1. Jonathan YE

    Just came across this. I was at this concert. I was a student from the midwest going to school in London, I attended along with about six others from my colllege. It began my lifelong addiction to Wishbone Ash. Have seen them 7 times since then. ELP’s gig was great, the armadill0 tanks were on tracks that moved back and forth on stage, blue eyes blazing, lot of smoke. Focus sang Hocus Pocus their big hit. Genesis with Peter Gabriel not Phil Collins. Rod Stewart was also there with Jack Bruce getting some award. It was a beautiful sunny day. I remember eating some hash and then relieving the munchies by eating vast quatities of sugar donuts sold out of a little cart at the back of the stadium and washing it down with some very warm watford ale we brought in. Boy did those donuts expand in the gut. I also remember people throwing things at a guy who was trying to sell the afternoon paper in the middle of the crowd. Nearly started a riot with things flying back and forth at the poor guy. Fantastic concert and an experience I still recall fondly in my memory nearly 36 years later. Just returned from another trip to London last month and I never forget why London means so much to me, that concert was a big part of the experience.

  2. teenagerockopera

    I am insanely jealous that you recall far more than I can!

    I certainly don’t remember Rod Stewart being there.

    A lifelong addiction to Wishbone Ash eh? You have my deepest sympathies! 😉

  3. Jonathan YE

    Stewart didn’t play that I recall, like Bruce he was a surprise show. He just got some award. Of course now Andy Powell is the only original member of WA and its the old stuff that I prefer, Sometime World still being my favorite, although they never seem to play it live no matter how much I shout for it. The previous Saturday (9/23/72) I went to Stamford Bridge to see Chelsea v Ipswich for my only Premier League experience. Peter Osgood was the star. I still have the program from the game. Now I am still a Chelsea supporter and just returned from a tour of the new Stamford Bridge last month. On the other hand I am jealous of the concert day poster. I still remind friends of the number of acts that day at the Oval for less than $2, the poster is proof I haven’t lost my memory. I thought London was an absolutely mad place to live in 1972, it seemed like the center of the universe. I wanted time to stop forever. Thanks for the blog, it was exactly what I was searching for.

  4. teenagerockopera

    Tut tut sir.. in those days there was no such thing as the “Premier League”, there was merely the “First Division”.

    Osgood, as you may be aware, later became an integral part of “my team” Southampton. Or rather, “my team” after I had stopped myself from being a 70’s glory hunter supporting Manchester City! (Read blog archives for story)

    Glad you’ve been enjoying the blog!

  5. milesago

    Fudd were a real group, from Dublin, previously known as Elmer Fudd. Singer Benny White appears on the (mediocre) Funky Junction “Tribute to Deep Purple” LP. I just can’t imagine what category they won in Melody Maker???
    Surely “self-indulgent rambling shit” is a more apt description of ELP (even in 1972)!? Did Mr.Palmer remove his shirt for the drum solo?

  6. TB

    I was there too! In fact I was sitting next to you. Due to the fact we had to catch the 9:47 we missed half of Wishbone Ash’s set. A few weeks back I was fortunate to see a couple of these groups namely Focus and (Martin Turner’s) WA. How odd to find WA playing exactly the same set – I got to hear the second side of Argus and the remainder of the gig I missed after all these years.
    Anyway your memory of this concert is pretty minimal. Let me help.
    1. There were a couple of ‘freaks’ in a green sleeping bag in front of us. What the hell were they doing in there – it was a lovely day after all.
    2. Instead of walking the mile or so from Kennington to Waterloo station we decided to join the crush on the Northern Line. Not sure we were trying to catch the 9:47 and you might well have got into trouble with your pop.
    3. ELP were not good IMHO. Although the bassist did a nice acoustic tune at one point.
    4. Starting to get fuzzy now… Did John Peel DJ? Nellie The Elephant singalong.
    5. Were people shouting Wally! all day?
    6. We couldn’t tell if Mr Palmer took his shirt off because someone had put a truck load of drums in front of him.
    7. Lunch was fish paste sandwiches. Probably.

    Anyway thanks for the free ticket. Plus, who the hell was Graham?

    • Macca

      I was there too – and also went in either ’73 or (I suspect this is more accurate) ’71. I know it was 2 consequetive years and that one of them was ’72. The ‘other’ year featured The Who, Rod Stewart (who auctioned his snakeskin suit for charity), America who no-one had heard of – think they were the up and coming foreign band that year, Focus had their turn in ’72 in that category. My sister lived a mile a way and claimed she couldn’t hear her TV when The Who were on stage! Back to ’72 … the compere was Ricky Farr who’d also been at I.o.W in ’69 & ’70. “Wally” definitely must have had burning ears… his name WAS heard all afternoon… seem to recall Spam being popular too. The biggest cheer of the day came when Thijs Van Leer (Focus) announced that they were going to play a song from their album Moving Waves called “Eruption”. Not because ANYONE knew the song and wanted to hear it, but because track 1, side 1, of ELP’s “Tarkus” (the album being promoted with the Armadillo Tanks) was also called “Eruption”. I also remember being underwhelmed by Genesis and I’m pretty sure that Jack Bruce broke a string. Wishbone Ash… now there’s an irony … I didn’t think much to their set at the time, but have since learned of the error of judgement I made 🙂 I’d taken along a neighbour’s daughter to her first gig that day… she fell in love with me as a result.. or maybe it was the Morrocan Gold. Poor girl, I never did fancy her. Tony (my best mate at the time) and I were dressed in what must’ve looked like Chelsea Pensioner’s uniforms bought from an army surplus store and I seem to recall making the sound of sheep on the train back to Kingston, much to the annoyance of the other passengers. It was a great era for open air gigs – the Hyde Park Pink Floyd one will live forever in my memory.

      • teenagerockopera

        Great to hear other people’s memory of the day – especially as mine are/were so bad! Thanks for reading EFA70sTRO

  7. VdGGfan

    Well, it’s a while since I visited your blog , which I have found :
    a/ nostalgic (I am about the same age – a bit older, possibly)
    b/ moving
    c/ at times, side-splittingly funny!
    Seeing as there is a (relatively) recent reply on the MM pollwinners’ concert (I discovered your blog on googling this event), I thought I might add my tuppenceworth of recollections of the day.
    I travelled by car from Glasgow with two student friends. I remember it was a glorious day (hard to believe it was late-September!)
    I had gone mainly to see ELP who had gone mega following the release of Tarkus (there’s a reference to the event in the sleevenotes to the Trilogy cd.)
    We were about 1/3 of the way back slightly to the left of the stage; I remember refusing the offer of a joint being passed round (how naff was that?!) Was really chuffed when Jack Bruce came onstage, being a fellow Glaswegian. Focus were terrific, but the band that blew me away was Genesis; Peter Gabriel appeared at one point in the red dress and fox’s head a la the sleeve of Foxtrot (this memory was rather hazy until I checked out the website of your previous correspondent, which confirmed my recollection – well worth checking out for more memories of the day, btw).
    Iirc, it was getting dark when Wishbone Ash took stage. By this time I was suffering severe stomach cramp following the consumption of a large proportion of a Party Seven container of (warm) Watney’s Red Barrel and a packet of Jacobs’ Fruit Clubs (heady days eh? – should have taken the spliff.)
    Can’t believe I never took a camera. However, I recently discovered a (poor audio quality) recording of Genesis’ set.
    Happy days!!


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