A look at Friars Bedford
Now this really was a
strange gig. After Phase One got closed down in July 1970 we migrated
to Bedford. Except it wasn’t really in Bedford at all, but in Kempston.
This is a sort of suburb of Bedford. The hall was in the middle of a
Park and it had no Bar (no licence allowed). The Phase One and a Half
nights were on Fridays…………yes that is right, Friday night gigs with no
alcohol! It meant a lot of pass-outs.
In many ways the hall
was similar to the Ex-Services Club hall with the same hefty tables and
stackable chairs. We carried on with the same people and bands that had
launched Friars into an unsuspecting world the previous year. I
particularly remember the Optic Nerve light show. This was run by the ‘Gollies’,
so named because of their enormous afro hairstyles. They set up by
balancing tables on top of one another with their projectors on the very
top. Their light show was much influenced by The Jefferson Airplane’s
show in San Francisco. Special wheels were used in front of the
projectors and these carried coloured oils suspended in solvents. Now,
any chemistry student will tell you that most solvents are both volatile
and flammable! Anyway, one night the whole lot collapsed ………..tables,
projectors and solvents. Goodness knows how the place never burnt down.
remember the journey over from Aylesbury. I would give a lift to the
AGS guys who manned the door, pass outs and ‘security’. The route used
to entail driving through Ampthill an awkward sort of place in which I
invariably took the wrong road. After Ampthill the road led into
deepest Bedfordshire and then a most peculiar smell invaded the car.
This was the way of telling that we were on the right road. Years later
I gathered that the smell came from a large brickworks nearby. It was a
good hour’s drive to get there and after clearing up at the end of the
night it was another hour to get back. Miraculously the atmosphere of
Phase 1 held up. The first night with The Groundhogs was packed out
with McPhee fans and there were many other great nights.
Friars was to
continue into Phase 2…………but they were strange days.