The Oval 1972, I’m falling in love with open air rock concerts

The Melody Maker Oval concert 1972

Two months after my first open Air concert I was back for more. I was very much into prog rock so when some of the biggest progressive rock bands of the era came together for a special concert at London’s Oval cricket ground. there was no way that I and my band of brothers were going to miss this gig. The show dubbed the “Melody Maker Poll Winners” concert, featured performances by Emerson Lake and Palmer, Focus, Genesis and Wishbone Ash.

The event was organized to celebrate the music of those groups, which had all been voted the best in their respective categories in a poll conducted by British music magazine Melody Maker. Each band played a lengthy set, with Emerson Lake and Palmer – who had just released their groundbreaking album Tarkus – closing the show.

First Up Focus

After seeing Focus at Reading it’s fair to say that I had become obsessed with them. Moving Waves was on my record player nonstop. They even had a hit with Hocus Pocus. I was expecting something exciting, and they didn’t disappoint. Jan Akkerman, in particular, was amazing. The other highlight of the focus performance was Jack Bruce of Cream fame who had been voted best bass player, from what I can remember Jack Bruce was always voted best bass player, Came on stage to Jam with the band.

A fox on stage

Next Up Genisis. If I was in love with Focus it was nothing compared to the feelings that I was starting to develop for Genesis. The gig was just before they released the Epic Foxtrot They played some stuff from it and Gabriel, who was noted for his stage costumes wore a foxes head as he performed one of the tracks. It sounded great They were brilliant.

Nothing to see here move on

Then came Argent I wasn’t that interested in them. Hold your head up had charted and it was a good single but their LP was weak and I was into LPS. In those days we all were.

They just weren’t Prog enough for me.

Then Wishbone Ash, Yea baby 😉

I loved Wishbone Ash. They were a four-piece with twin lead guitars that played off each over so well. On stage they were good and they knew it. They had a certain arrogance about them. I remember one gig of theirs that I went to they started taking the piss out of Status Quo. That gets my vote.

Argus, their third Lp had not long been released. It was a very good LP in fact I still play it from time to time when I fancy a bit of guitar music. I seem to remember enjoying them

Duck, Some madman is throwing knives on stage

Then Came ELP

ELP were The band of the time. The kings of Prog and the biggest of the lot. They were referred to as a supergroup as all three members had left successful bands to form the group. Lake was ex-King Crimson, Emerson The Nice and I think Plamer came from Atomic Rooster.

They were the band of every duffle coat dessert boot-wearing freak which of course was now our tribe. They had just released Tarkus. On the front cover was this tank-like creature, it was a concept Lp, wasn’t every LP a concept Lp those days. They had built two replica Tarkuses on each side of the stage. Every so often smoke would come out of their mouths. Looking back I can see how ridiculous that was, Spinal Tap, eat your heart out. I can remember Bert taking the piss out of them non stop. I liked them.

They played a good set Keith Emerson was nuts throwing daggers at his keyboard and trying to wrestle with it.

Greg Lake had an amazing voice It cut through like no one else’s

And that was it. A great gig and I enjoyed it more than Reading.

But there were better to come.


Footnote I’ve browed a couple of images from Terence Ruffle who published a great music blog. Sadly Terence is no longer with us. I never met the guy, I wish I had. He sounded like my sort of guy.  RIP Terry hope you don’t mind a fellow freak borrowing these.