Drying chili peppers. Haebangchon, Seoul. South Korea. © Matt Lemon Photography. All Rights Reserved.
Last weekend, Koreans celebrated Chuseok, the Korean Mid-Autumn Festival. Like many other harvest festivals, it is held around the Autumn Equinox. Thinking about harvests made me remember my first-ever rock concert when I went to see the English rock band Barclay James Harvest. The band still exists, though it split into two different groups at the end of the 90s due to musical differences. But the heyday of Barclay James Harvest was during the 70s and early 80s, a period in which they released albums such as Everyone Is Everybody Else (1974), Gone to Earth (1977) , Eyes of the Universe (1979), or Victims of Circumstance (1984).
In the summer of 1980, at the height of their success, they played a free (!) concert in front of the Reichstag in West Berlin. 250,000 people celebrated within shouting distance of the Berlin Wall, and it seems that even East Berlin’s then mayor Erhard Krack was impressed because seven years later, Barclay James Harvest became the first Western rock band to play an open-air concert in pre-Glasnost East Germany, playing in East Berlin’s Treptower Park in July 1987 to an audience of over 170,000 people. That same year I went to see them at the now demolished Deutschlandhalle, once built for the 1936 Summer Olympics in Nazi Germany, and later a venue in which artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Jimi Hendrix or David Bowie performed.
When Barclay James Harvest were on their ‘Face to Face Tour’, I was just 14 years old and my parents only agreed to let me go if I went together with an older family friend. I think I even had to pay for his ticket but I didn’t mind. The concert was great and Barclay James Harvest played some of their greatest hits that I had first gotten to know from my dad’s record collection. One of my favourite tracks back then was their feel-good tune Friend of mine.
Which artist or band did you first see live when you were young?
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…and here is a great video of Barclay James Harvest’s amazing free gig in West Berlin, including plenty of archive material about the band and about West Berlin before the German reunification.