British Musicians Rock Civic Arena
Press Music Editor
Parents with bruised eardrums who hope rock will roll away had better brace themselves. Rock music is more popular than ever in America and England, according to British musicians touring here.
Two of those groups, Traffic and Free, and singer John Martyn appeared at the Civic Arena last night for Pat DiCesare Productions and drew a crowd of 13,219, almost all teen-agers.
Viv Phillips, tour manager for Traffic, said his group's recordings are selling as well here as they did in England. "We have made a half dozen tours of America, and thus far the current tour seems to be one of the best." Pittsburgh is nearly mid-point of the tour which will go into 28 cities.
DiCesare tried something new last night, an early curtain, 7 p.m., "to get the kids home earlier." It didn't work. Musicians and their equipment got lost en route here from St Louis and the start of the tour was delayed an hour. Much of the audience was an hour late arriving too. Once the show started few of them left until it ended at 11:30 p.m. There were also plenty of police, extra ushers and guards on hand to enforce the 'no smoking in seats' ban.
Traffic headlined the show, and although they did not appear until 10 p.m., they did not disappoint, once the music began to roll. Two of its members, Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi, write all material for the group and impressive material it is. They rely heavily on percussions, including African drums, and the seven-member group showed some excellent ensemble work in the opening number 'Shoot-Out At The Fantasy Factory'. They also brought excitement to the performance with 'Glad' and 'Roll Right Stones'. Their performance included many works from their albums. Winwood showed exceptional talent on the guitar. All in all this was a most rewarding performance.
Traffic was founded in Birmingham, England, six years ago, a long time for a rock group to survive but survived and prospered they have. Four of the players are Britishers, three musicians are from Alabama.
Fine Folk Singer
John Martyn, one of the best of contemporary British singers, started the show with some worthwhile mood music. 'Man Walks Inside', followed by 'Jelly Roll Baker' and 'I'd Rather Be The Devil'. Martyn is a skilled guitarist and he utilized some sophisticated new echo equipment. He has a background of blues and folk singing and the solid training helps bring added dimension to his performance.
Free, a heavy rock group founded in England in 1968, had plenty of solid rhythm to its tunes. Many of the songs were from their albums.
Upon leaving the arena I paused to ask an usher a question. He removed a set of heavy ear plugs from his ears and asked me to repeat my question. "I don't know how these kids can stand music this loud. They'll all be deaf at 25," he said. Probably closer to 20 if last night was an example of the punishment they inflict on their ears.
This review appeared on page 19 of the Friday edition of this newspaper.