Pink Floyd were headlining. Other acts were Roy Harper, Steve Miller Band, and Linda Lewis, who’d had a big hit with “it’s in his kiss”, though I swear she sang at Knebworth “it’s in his thing”.
Beefheart was introduced by John Peel with the words “Here he is, the guv’ner, Captain Beefheart!” The drums beat a couple of times, and they launched into a gloriously lurching, cacophonous version of “Moonlight on Vermont”. There were two distinct reactions from the audience. The Pink Floyd fans put their hands over their ears and looked at each other as if to say “What is this shit?!”. The Beefheart fans lunged forward, electrified by the sound. It was so off kilter; so alien; so “other” to what we’d been hearing all day, yet so much better, deeper; so RIGHT.
The line up was a strange one: Winged Eel Fingerling and Ella Guru Davidson (who he?) on guitars; Drumbo on guitar and drums; Jimmy Carl Black (introduced as Indian Ink) also on drums; and, instead of a bassist, Bruce “fossil” Fowler on trombone, or air bass as Beefheart called it. You couldn’t really say they were tight; one or two songs sort of slowed down halfway through, and the trombone made the rhythm kinda slurry; but it was a great sound; like a load of drunks trying to play impossibly complex music, and threatening to collapse into chaos at any moment, but always just avoiding it.