A truly spectacular event, 1967’s “Christmas on Earth Continued”—a super-concert described in one promo poster as an “All Night Christmas Dream Party”—gets sadly remembered as the last major show Syd Barret played with Pink Floyd—ending the set dazed and motionless onstage, his arms hanging limp at his sides. Barrett’s breakdown wasn’t the only thing that kept this massive happening, “the last gasp of the British underground scene,” from taking off as it should have.
As the blog Marmalade Skies recalls, the concert, held in the “vast London Olympia,” had “hopelessly inadequate” publicity.” This, and a “particularly severe winter freeze” meant sparse attendance and “financial disaster for the organizers.” In addition, a planned film of the event failed to materialize, “owing to poor picture quality of the footage.”
Despite all this, it seems, you really had to have been there. The lineup alone will make lovers of 60s psych-rock salivate: Jimi Hendrix Experience, Eric Burdon, Pink Floyd, The Move, Soft Machine, Tomorrow… The Who didn’t make it, but the unbilled Traffic did. We’re lucky to have some of the footage from that winter night. Check out Traffic below (with a very young Steve Winwood), playing “Dear Mr. Fantasy.”
Soft Machine, with Kevin Ayers resplendent in pre-punk black string vest, climaxed with the ultimate Dada version of ‘We did it again’ as Robert Wyatt leapt into a full bath of water, that just happened to be on-stage with them! At least, we assumed it was water.
Tomorrow powered through their unique mix of heavily Beatles influenced psychedelia. During ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ Twink (drums) and Junior (bass) performed a mimed fight whilst being subjected to the most powerful strobe light effects I’ve ever witnessed. Steve Howe was a revelation, moving from raga to classical to Barrett – style anarchy with an almost arrogant ease.
Traffic, still with Dave Mason, even performed ‘Hole in my shoe’. Steve Winwood was into his white cheesecloth period, and their music was so unlike anything else around that they occupied a totally original space. The song, ‘Here we go round the Mulberry Bush’ was very typical of their trippy, watery sound at that time.
Hendrix – voom! All light shows were killed for his performance. Noel Redding was constantly niggling Jimi, playing bass behind his head as Jimi performed his tricks with his guitar. It was the first time I saw Hendrix with his Gibson Flying Arrow, and the tension on-stage produced some electrifying music.
At the top of the post see Hendrix in backstage footage, effortlessly coaxing some beautiful 12-bar blues from that Gibson flying V. The film clips of him onstage—blowing an obviously very turned-on audience’s collective mind—will convince you this was the only place on earth to be on December 22, 1967.
And that fateful Floyd performance? We don’t seem to have any film, but we do have the audio, and you can hear it below, slightly sped up, it seems. The band were debuting their new 3D lightshow, which—as much as Barrett’s sad loss of his faculties—left quite an impression on the crowd. One anonymous commenter on Calder’s blog, who claims to have seen been in attendance at the tender age of 18, writes, “I was so impressed with the Soft Machine and Pink Floyd lightshows that I bought an old movie projector from a thrift shop and me and my flatmate spent hours putting color slides into the projector grate and watched them melt psychedelically on the wall.” No doubt impressionable youngsters all over the UK indulged in similar kinds of good clean fun, with Piper at the Gates of Dawn on the hi-fi. If like me, you were born too late to experience the zenith of the psychedelic 60s, then flip off the lights, let your trippiest screen saver take over, and listen to Pink Floyd deconstruct themselves below.
via Liberal England