|Issue 8 - November 1972|
1,000 people crammed into the Dunelm to see Free on Wednesday night. After
much queuing the audience settled down to watch a tight yet unadventurous
set from Hackensac followed by a rather tedious bit of rock & roll
nostalgia by Screamin' Hawkins. Somehow, after seeing Sha Na Na all other
acts of this kind look very contrived, still it was good music to move
to, if you had somewhere to move!
At ten to twelve, after a long wait Free condescended to appear. Durham was one of their first gigs with their new line-up and this really showed through. Paul Kossoff didn't fall over, but looked very strange with an all new, semi-respectable haircut and a rather dopey? look in his eyes. Paul Rogers seemed strange with a Gibson Rocket strung around his neck but his voice was as powerful and strong as ever, and the same can be said for Simon Kirke's drumming. Bassist Andy Fraser has been replaced by a Japanese guy called Tetsu who, whilst not so unorthodox as Fraser, is very powerful and consistent. Also new is American organist, 'Rabbit', a former session musician.
Free are still very much into power. For this gig they had hired the Who's PA system and at times the volume became painful.
They opened with an old song, 'Heartbreaker' and it was immediately obvious Free had changed little, slightly more sophisticated perhaps and at times lacking their earlier precision, but basically they are still the 'heavy' group. They ran through a lot of new material only once dropping back to do 'Dig a Pony' until they closed with 'Fire and Water', they did one encore, 'Alright Now' and then left.
Reactions afterwards were mixed - it seemed to come down to - if you already dug them you enjoyed it, but if you didn't, the foul conditions in the Dunelm and the extreme volume made it a poor night out.