National Health/Steve Miller, Oxford Polytechnic, Spring 1979.
A benefit for Lol Coxhill to help pay for his medical bills sustained after
a serious car smash in the States, and a rare (possibly unique) NH gig in
the UK with Alan Gowen in place of the recently departed Dave Stewart. A
magical performance, a perfect sound balance, Phil Miller's Dreams Wide
Awake did it for me, people were even dancing!! The Steve Miller trio had
earlier performed a sublime improvised set, electric piano, bass and drums
have rarely demonstrated so many colours. Steve, we're all missing you.
In Cahoots, Boat Race, Cambridge, Spring 1996.
Myself and about three others were privileged to witness this performance.
I suppose the presence of Courtney Pine in town the same night didn't help
but even so the lack of audience was nothing short of scandalous. Perhaps
the gig goers of Cambridge are spoilt. Despite this Phil Miller and Co were
thoroughly professional and superb throughout, this music should be heard.
My only reservation is the feeling that Phil's compositions deserve the
attention of a larger ensemble but are denied the opportunity by the
inevitable economics. I take nothing away from Messrs Pyle, Dean, Baker,
Dvorak and Lemer, their performances were faultless and inspired, but it
would be nice to have the chance to compare and contrast.

Random Hold, Oxford Polytechnic, Spring 1979.
Strictly speaking Random Hold are not really of the Canterbury genre, their
appearance in these pages is entirely due to the bass rumble of ex Matching
Mole Bill MacCormick, but as this gig was the most stunning musical
surprise I've ever had I feel justified to include it. It was a low key gig
in a college common room, I'd never heard of the band but Bill MacCormick's
name drew me in. Dark powerful songs against an austere backing, the
complementary guitars of Simon Ainley (light) and David Rhodes (shade), a
rock solid rhythm section. They blew me away, 20 years on I reckon I'm
still the world's biggest Random Hold fan.

Gong/Isotope, Guildhall, Preston, Autumn 1974.
My first proper gig and what a way to start. I was probably more familiar
with Isotope through their first album, Hugh Hopper had just joined which
was a real bonus. They were good, but Gong far exceeded any expectations I
had from a couple of listens to Camembert Electrique. Musically and
visually stunning, Daevid Allen was obviously the focus but Steve Hillage
was my first guitar hero. I even took to wearing a woolly hat!!

Stephen's own website, including all his many contributions to Facelift, can be reached here
issue 20 - the issue that never happened!
- stephen yarwood's top 5 gigs