Your F***ing Sunny Day (Episode 18)

Sometimes you just need some classic rock, so here goes!

Reading Festival 1983

Back in 1983, at the age of 16, I went to the Reading Rock Festival on a £15.95 three day ticket. It was my second time there, although when I went the year before I only had a ticket for the Friday and missed most of the best bands. This time I would get to see them all, although, I actually can’t remember much about the weekend now if I’m honest. I don’t know who I went with, where I stayed (a tent for sure, but I don’t know whose tent it was), or most of the bands I saw. I’ve really had to dig deep into the memory banks to come up with much at all. I had completely forgotten that I’d seen The Stranglers until I saw the poster again, and I love The Stranglers so how the hell could I forget that! Here’s the line up poster for 1983:


There’s not much video available from the weekend, which is unsurprising as camera phones hadn’t been invented yet, probably, but the Stranglers set was broadcast on the radio, and here it is if you feel like a listen, oh, and the set list, though I don’t think it’s the full one, just what was broadcast on the Friday Rock Show:

01 Nuclear Device
02 Toiler on the Sea
03 Ships that Pass in the Night
04 No More Heroes
05 Golden Brown
07 European Female
08 Thrown Away
09 The Raven
10 Duchess
11 London Lady
12 Down in the Sewer

Here’s what I can remember of the bands I saw:-

Hanoi Rocks: I’m pretty sure I saw them and wasn’t all that impressed at the time, though later on I did buy one of their albums on vinyl, mostly because of their version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Up Around The Bend’, the album was’ Two Steps from the Move’ released in 1984, it was pretty good, in fact, I probably still have it somewhere.

They were one of the very few acts whose set was filmed, I have no idea why, but here’s the whole thing even though it’s quite rough footage taken from the stage it gives an idea of the crowd and suchlike, and how just about all the bands where bottled at some point, which was stupid:

(The Chantays cover)
Oriental Beat
Back to Mystery City
Until I Get You
Mental Beat
Don’t You Ever Leave Me
Malibu Beach
Taxi Driver

Big Country: I recall rather enjoying Big Country, although by the end of their set I was ok about it being over as I think I’d had enough by then, finding the sound somewhat one dimensional. I’m sure it was great if you were a big fan, but I was a casual listener. This was probably their biggest gig up to this point having been touring their debut release, ‘The Crossing’, which I did buy eventually. I found their set list for that night, here it is:

01 Harvest Home
02 A Thousand Stars
03 Close Action
04 Balcony
05 Lost patrol
06 Porrohman
07 The Storm
08 In a Big Country
09 Chance
10 Angle Park
11 Fields of Fire

Steel Pulse: I’m not sure they even managed to get through the first song without being bottled off, which was a shame as we all had to stand there and listen to nothing instead. People can really be stupid sometimes.

Lee Aaron: I do remember the set, but didn’t think much of it at all and I’d never heard of her before she walked out on stange, and never heard of her again actually, it is about the best bit of footage I’ve found though

Night Riders
Lady of the Darkest Night
Metal Queen
Under Your Spell
I Like My Rock Hard
(Different Lyrics)
Shake It Up
Hold Out
Head Above Water
We Will Be Rockin’

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble: I enjoyed this set, not least because they did a version of Voodoo Chile but also because I knew that Vaughan had played on Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’, although that was pretty much all I knew beforehand. Just like a lot of other bands, he was bottled, fortunately he just got on with it.

(The Isley Brothers cover)
So Excited
Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
(The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
Pride and Joy
Mary Had a Little Lamb
(Buddy Guy cover)
Love Struck Baby
Texas Flood
(Larry Davis cover)
Come On (Part I)

Marillion: If somebody had asked me yesterday if I had ever seen Marillion live I would have answered a definitive no, except I have, and had forgotten all about it until I looked at the Reading 83 line up again. My recollection is very vague indeed, but it’s there. I had seen quite a few posters for 12” singles (Probabaly ‘Market Square Heroes’), in Birmingham I think and the graphics were intriguing, and this was the year that they released ‘Script for a jesters tear’, which I hadn’t heard at the time of the gig, but I’m sure I had heard them on ‘The Friday Rock Show’ and made the obvious Peter Gabriel era Genesis connections myself, so I did already have a leaning towards liking them. Below is ‘Garden Party’, probably the only track I knew at the time, followed by ‘He Knows You Know’.

Garden Party
Script for a Jester’s Tear
Charting the Single
Forgotten Sons
Market Square Heroes / Margaret / The Web
He Knows You Know

Black Sabbath: This was just awful, at least i’ve always remembered it as such, apart from the fact it was Ian Gillan on vocals, which I just found odd, the PA was affected by water and kept cutting in and out, and I actually laughed out loud, not in a good way, when they started to play ‘Smoke on the Water’. I suspect I was very guilty of music snobbery at this point as Gillan did a perfectly fine job, but I think I would have just rather it have been Ozzy or Dio, maybe I felt a bit cheated. I do seem to recall there was a whole Spinal Tap Stonehenge set there as well. Also, I think Bev Bevan was on drums for this. Some of the tracks are below, I couldn’t find all of them:

Children of the Grave
Hot Line
War Pigs
Born Again
(with Drum Solo)
Rock ‘N’ Roll Doctor
Disturbing the Priest
Keep It Warm
Black Sabbath
The Dark
Zero the Hero
Guitar Solo
Digital Bitch
Iron Man
Smoke on the Water
(Deep Purple cover)
Paranoid / Heaven and Hell

Suzi Quatro: Surprisingly decent set for the head to toe leather clad bassist/vocalist. Not really my thing but she went down very well with crowd. She must have come on about 6 ish and done around 45 minutes

01 Intro
02 Never Been in Love
03 I Know What I Want
04 She’s in Love
05 Good Girl
06 Strange Encounter
07 Can the Can
08 Devil Gate Drive
09 Tear Me Apart
10 encore break
11 Keep on Knocking
12 Bye, Bye Johnny 

Thin Lizzy: I think this may have been their last UK performance, or certainly close to it. They were probably the most anticipated of the bands at the festival for most people and they didn’t disappoint it was a high energy set with plenty of favourite tracks included. This was the end of a year long tour promoting the ‘Thunder & Lightening’ album. Within 3 years Phil Lynott would be dead, a sad loss.

Thunder and Lightning
Waiting for an Alibi
Are You Ready
Baby Please Don’t Go
A Night in the Life of a Blues Singer
(Phil Lynott song)
The Holy War
The Sun Goes Down
Cold Sweat
Cowboy Song
The Boys Are Back in Town
Sha La La
Róisín Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend
Baby Drives Me Crazy
(Bob Seger cover)
Dancing in the Moonlight (It’s Caught Me in Its Spotlight)
Still in Love With You

Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul: I vaguely remember being bored by almost the whole set.

Climax Blues Band: There was definitely a harmonica involved.

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel : I only knew one song, there may have been a bowler hat on stage at on point.

I really don’t remember any of the others at this point, though I guess some of it may come back. Right now my 16 year old son is there for his first festival, over 30 years after I went. This is what he can expect to see (Click for bigger version):


I really hope he enjoys it.