Two and a half months after opening, the Roundhouse held a “Giant Freak-Out All Night Rave”to celebrate New Year’s Eve of 1966. The 10pm ’til dawn event featured some of the biggest psychedelic rock acts of the time. The review below describes Pink Floyd’s “groovy picture slides” (seen just months before at the venue’s opening party), The Who smashing sound barriers, topless audience members and freezing temperatures.
The Who, The Move, Pink Floyd: The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
Nick Jones, Melody Maker, 7 January 1967
THE ROUNDHOUSE at Chalk Farm was once called “a derelict barn”. On Saturday it saw in the New Year with little elevation of its stature. The scene was the Giant Freak-Out All Night Rave, where the participants, “emancipated from our national social slavery” as the ads shrieked, are supposed to “realise as a group whatever potential they possess for free expression.” Either there was no potential among these liberated souls, or somewhere the organisation went wrong.
If to get high, expand the conscience, freak-out, have the senses bombarded with kinetics and sound, you first have to suffer frostbite, malnutrition and nausea, give me the At Home With the Fugs and the Brain Police album, anytime.
However, despite the lack of facilities “the participants” — i.e. the paying guests — adjusted as they always do. They blasphemed at the groups, got it together in the corners, and looned about to keep the circulation on the move.
On stage the Pink Floyd, the Who, and the Move each attempted to excite the audience into some positive action. The Pink Floyd have a promising sound, and some very groovy picture slides which attract far more attention than the group, as they merge, blossom, burst, grow, divide and die.
The Who got on to the stage after an hour wait during which participants were treated to ‘See-Saw’, by Don Covay. The Who almost succeeded in winning over the show with an immediate flurry of smoke bombs and sound barrier smashing. But somebody pulled out the plug and the Who fell as quiet as a graveyard. The trouble recurred to cut short two more numbers. After playing most of their new album tracks rather half-heartedly, Pete Townshend wheeled upon a fine pair of speakers and ground them with his shattered guitar into the stage. It was fair comment. The group had thrice been switched off as well as being constantly plunged into darkness by a team of lighting men — none of whom seemed to know where, in fact, the stage or the Who were positioned.
The Move were more successful. Technically they had no hitches and their act came smoothly to a stage-shaking climax as TV sets with Hitler and Ian Smith pictures were swiped with iron bars, and a car was chopped up.
Two girls were incensed enough to strip to the waist and the remaining, shivering crowds surged menacingly towards the stage, the demolished car, and the birds.
The proceeds of the happenings are going to Centre 42 which, ultimately, hopes to raise a brand new amphitheatre at the Roundhouse. Whether they will continue to put on pop shows when the theatre is built remains to be seen. They owe it to the pop scene to do so.
© Nick Jones, 1967
Review provided courtesy of Rock’s Back Pages.