Deep Purple logo 1984Knebworth Fayre 1985

"The Return of the Knebworth Fayre"
at Knebworth Park near Stevenage, Hertfordshire in a very wet England

Saturday 22 Jun 1985

Brian McPherson remembers:
Here's my observations and memories of Knebworth 1985. First of all I arrived at 6.30 am & was excited never having been to such a large event before. It was already raining and did not stop much throughout the day. My first impression of Knebworth was that it was a large country estate with little of character to recommend it .The P.A. system looked the size of a football pitch & at the time was the biggest stage ever built in the UK with the largest P.A., being that purple were going for the loudest British concert sound ever , at that point the record still being held by The Who at Charlton 74. After a very long wait the concert began at 11.30 with Alaska.

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Arena opens 10:00
ALASKA 11:45
Colt Car (?) Sky divers 14:35
UFO 16:15
Marlborough Acrobatic Display Team 17:00
End 23:30

Alaska were promoting their second album on Music For Nations and their performance confirmed this. Playing for 30 minutes they made very little impression except for at the front. I think that they played Fool For Your Loving as song 6 or Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues .I remember applauding more in sympathy than excitement & felt given the talent in the band they were very bland kind of a precursor of modern day Whitesnake! Truth is this was a great opportunity to make a first impression wasted; material & performance were routine.

Mountain played for 30 minutes being the support on Purple's tour at the invitation of Ritchie Blackmore. Mark Clarke ex Rainbow on bass. Theme From An Imaginary Western was beautiful being dedicated to the recently deceased original bassist Felix Pappalardi. They played 2 songs from the 1985 electro rock flavoured album, neither making any great impression. Then it went from absurd to ridiculous with drummer Corky Laing battering a large black box stage prop I remember thinking what is this sh!te! The box battering seemed to be endless along with a drum solo. My main memory is Leslie West's awesome guitar playing & once again disappointment but a desire to see Mountain in an indoor arena.

Mama's Boys were great playing 6 songs to an excellent response; they had the loudest sound of the day as 1/3 of the P.A. blew out after their set causing the record attempt to fail. Last song by Mama's Boys was Mama We're All Crazy Now which was the nearest they came to a hit single. Also played Gentleman Rogues , Runaway Dreams , Straight Forward No Looking Back, i remember that this song was part of audience participation singing the chorus back to the band . Pat McManus also did his solo with the Jimmy Page synth guitar which I liked but many thought a bit clichéd. Anyhow I enjoyed them and the memories are good, Drummer Tommy is dead now due to leukaemia. Shame, they should have been huge and it looked like they would go on but it all fizzled out.

Blackfoot played for 40 minutes, I recall as the sun shone for the only time of the whole day. They were wonderful, a southern boogie treat, playing classics Howay The Lads , On The Run & Morning Dew. Their set passed very quickly and they got an excellent response from the crowd.

UFO were next featuring new guitarist Atomic Tommy from Japan , new material was good but nothing special. . They played Hot & Ready , Rock Bottom , Lights Out & I think finished with Doctor Doctor. Enjoyed them but felt they were living on past glories. .

Meatloaf played with a broken leg and I was within 6 ft of the stage during his set, something I have no desire to repeat. Meatloaf played all the classics and against a fairly indifferent crowd performed an excellent set, indeed the whole experience inspired him to write 'Rock & Roll Mercenaries'. He seemed a wee bit out of place but I felt that his performance vindicated his presence good on ya Meat. I remember his rant about drinking a kettle of hot water & then pissing ice cubes feeling that this was an expression of his displeasure with the crowds response to his show and in retrospect he had a point! The big man gave 100% and compared to the early part of the bill and deserved to be there making the best of his opportunity..

Scorpions came on at 6.30 finishing at 7.45 the true stars of the day playing the classic World Wide Live set and encoring with a great version of Still Loving You, I bought the live album as soon as I got home. Without doubt the finest set in Scorpion history they made me forget the endless rain and the incredibly long day. Blackout, Make It Real, Another Piece Of Meat, The Zoo, Rock You Like A Hurricane, fresh vibrant and played with passion and precision. Shame they were still playing exactly the same set at Donnigton 86 supporting Ozzy!

Purple eventually began at 10 pm the long wait leaving plenty of time for arseholes to throw bottles! The night was warm but wet and by the time purple started my spirits were very low . Nice laser light show during difficult to cure and the lasers during Blackmore's guitar solo which went round the venue in delay towers to heighten the effect . Three folk climbed on stage during the show the welcome getting more severe as time went on. Purple's performance was competent if a bit uninspired Blackmore not even playing during SOTW. Truth is it was fine, a golden opportunity which could and should have been much better than it was, it was as if they saved the worst performance of the tour for home!

Now read on to my version of Deep Purple events...

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