Manchester University 1970-1971: Thirty eight live acts in two semesters…No problem!

We all had this tremendous appetite for live music.  Coming from disparate corners of the UK, all of us being 17 or 18 years of age, escaping the boredom of living at home with families in sleepy neighborhoods, we just could not believe the plethora of live music many nights of the week at the University of Manchester Student Union, the Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), downtown venues and surrounding colleges.  My recollection of those times was that our ‘band of friends’ would venture out most weekend nights for one of two performances, and also mid week when possible.  I recently came across my first year (freshman) student union card, on the back of which I diligently recorded the band/artist roster for the first two semesters of that first year.  A list-making & collecting compulsive/obsessive pattern that has followed me into adulthood.

A total of Thirty Eight performances over the first two semesters – here is the illustrated list with a few annotated memories.  This is a pretty amazing list in retrospect.

Starting with the most memorable for me – Led Zeppelin at the Students Union, March 19th.  Although it was March, the Union Hall was packed solid, standing only and getting very hot.  I recall making my way over the tall window on the west side and climbing onto the ledge – fabulous view over the heads of all and then cracking open the window to help cool the room.

mcnahester71tkt manchester1971_postermanchester_11-24-71_a manchester_3-71Act #2: John Mayall

John_Mayall_3Act #3: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

This performance started at midnight in the Free Trade Hall downtown, Manchester – I don’t recall any other act doing that and not sure how Frank worked it out.  After the concert we had to walk home. which would have taken more than an hour – but then realized there was a ‘sit in’ at the university so we “slept in’ there until morning.


Act #4, 5 and 6: The WHO – THREE TIMES

OK – I confess that one performance was in Liverpool.  I still can hear quite well……


Act #7: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

ELPAct #8: Pink Floyd

Also at the Free Trade Hall, downtown Manchester.  The front row audiences freaked out a little during the performance “One of these days” when someone (a roadie, I suspect) appeared out the darkness in a gorilla suit and started to frolic with the audience, then it started to get weird.


Act #9: The Rolling Stones

Again, at the Free Trade Hall.  Keith was on great form that night.


Act #10: Johnny Winter

A mind blowing performance at the Free Trade Hall with rick Derringer, who was equally if not more virtuoso on the guitar.  At the end of the concert, the management opened the doors of the concert Hall while the band was still playing encores.  Hippies everywhere dancing, on the seats, hair flying – and then this elderly couple must have heard the noise and wandered into the Hall.  They were so cute just holding hands staring at this alien scene of loud, electric music and seemingly out of control youth.  And the appearance of Johnny Winter to consolidate the freakishness.

Johnny Winter

Acts #11, 12 &13  All in one concert: Genesis, Lindisfarne and Van der Graaf Generator


Vand der Graff – we LOVED this band.

Van der graafLindisfarne

lindisfarneGenesis (1973 photo).  Peter Gabriel from another planet.


Act #14: Traffic


Act #15 Deep Purple

Deep Purple 1971

Act #16: T. Rex

Although T. Rex became the ultimate teeny bopper band, they were still remembered at this time as Tyrannosaurus Rex and that progressive rock sound fame, as discovered and promoted by the fabulous Liverpudlian DJ John Peel.


Act #17: James Gang

James gang

Act #18: IF


Act #19: Pentangle

Obviously from this picture, they were in New York in 1971, as well as Manchester!

Pentangle- Central Park New York May 1971 sheet 574 frame 8a

Pentangle- Central Park New York May 1971
sheet 574 frame 8a

Act #20: Curved Air

curved air

Act #21: Slade


Act #22: Tom Paxton

Tom Paxton2Act#23: Purple Gang

Purple Gang

Act #24: Colosseum


Act #25: Supertramp


Act #26 & 26: Free (Twice)

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Dezo Hoffmann/REX (155628eb) Free - Andy Fraser, Paul Rodgers, Paul Kossoff and Simon Kirke Various

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Dezo Hoffmann/REX (155628eb)
Free – Andy Fraser, Paul Rodgers, Paul Kossoff and Simon Kirke

Act #27: Goliath

Goliath with early drummer

Act #28: Duster Bennett

Duster Bennett

Act #29: Argent


Act #30: Kevin Ayers


Act #31: Andy Robertson

Andy Roberts

Act #32: Graphite


Act #33: Blodwyn Pig


Act #34 & 35: Family (Twice)


Act #36: Lifetime




Act #37: Third Ear Band

third ear band

Act #38: Bridget Saint John

bridge st john

And that was it – Final exams, summer break and onto the second (sophomore) year….

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