Rockin in the Park, Clumber Park, nr Mansfield, 17 Aug 2012
I was lucky enough to win two tickets for this on my local radio station, an evening of, largely, prog rock including some bands/musicians I've wanted to see for a long time but never had the choice. For most of the day, the weather was terrible with some quite heavy rain but, as my friend and I, made our way to the venue, it began to clear up.
Due to various circumstances, we missed opening band, The Strawbs, and actually arrived just as Curved Air were starting their set, running through 'It Happened Today.' Having had my sister play me the Curved Air Live album way back when I was 11 years old, and being totally in love with Sonja Kristina, the Air were one of the bands I wanted to see despite not being greatly familiar with a lot of their back catalogue. I have to say that they did not disapoint. The band were tight with Sonja proving despite the fact she is now 63, her voice is as good as ever. Songs like 'Melinda More or Less', 'Marie Antoinette', 'Propositions' and 'Young Mother' were given an airing along with the, obvious, 'Back Street Luv'. All in all, I have to say they were one of the highlights of the day, heightened by the fact I was able to meet the lady herself afterwards, finding her to be a pleasant, polite and very friendly person.
Next up was the Carl Palmer Band. Being a fan of both ELP and Asia, he was another I had wanted to see for a long time. Taking the stage with a power trio of guitar/bass/drums, they immediately kicked into 'Peter Gunn' followed by a great version of Toccata. the highlight came next when, without keyboards or any other assistance, they did an amazing arrangement of 'Pictures at an Exhibition'. Rounding off with a rousing run through of 'Fanfare For the Common Man', it was a virtuoso performance, not least from the legend himself.
Next up were Focus who provided a mixture of great music and humour. Another band whose back catalogue I'm only just getting to grips with, they didn't disappoint giving run throughs of classics like 'House of the King', Sylvia' and 'Eruption' before ending with a breakneck rendition of 'Hocus Pocus'. Sadly, Jan Akkerman and Cyril Havermans are no longer a part of the band but there replacements, Menno Gootjes and Bobby Jacobs step up admirably. Pierre van der Linden and Thijs van Leer (who now looks like Harry Secombe) lend the line up a degree of authenticity and are as good as ever.
Brit Floyd came next. There had been some grumbling about the presence of a tribute band so high on the bill but, for me, this was swept away as, as the sun set behind us, 'Shine on You Crazy Diamond' filled the air. The set, drawn from 'Dark Side of the Moon', 'Wish You Were Here' and 'The Wall' (wot! No Animals? ) was performed with skill ans respect. As there is little chance we'll ever see the proper Pink Floyd again, this was the next best thing.
Finally Hawkwind took the stage. It has got be over 20 years since I saw the Hawks live but, despite the almost total change of personnel, it was as if little had changed. There was the usual crunching riffs overlaid by bubbling synth and, now, Tim Blake's theramin. 'Damnation Alley', Sonic Attack' and 'Arrival in Utopia' were among the tracks given an airing. There were the usual on stage dancers and good light show that, to me, are among the hallmarks of Hawkwind live. Sadly, they were unable to return for a deserved encore as the curfew had been reached but that was only a minor detail.
All in all, it was an enjoyable evening. the weather, for the most part, stayed fine with only the occasional shower. the organisation was good with helpful and friendly staff and, above all,FREE PARKING, located very close to the concert area. The only real downside was the sparse crowd, probably due to lack of promotion (that seemed to be reserved for the 80s pap, sorry pop, available the next day). Still, hopefully there was enough of an interest to justify the plans to make this an annual event.