It was twenty years ago, today...
Well okay, maybe not to the exact day. But in June 1990, a superstar assemblage of England's biggest music names gathered together at Knebworth House in Hertsfordshire to benefit Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy and the Brit School of Performing Arts. The Knebworth concert has been available on DVD for a while now, but has long been out-of-print on CD...at least until now.
Eagle Rock is reissuing Live At Knebworth as a 2-CD set this Tuesday, March 23. The lineup for this package really is something else, even by today's standards.
There are a few holdovers from the late eighties/early nineties here as well. But for every Tears For Fears, Cliff Richard or Status Quo here, you also get the likes of McCartney, Clapton, Elton John, Robert Plant, Pink Floyd, Phil Collins and Genesis. Nope, not a bad lineup at all.
But speaking of those eighties holdovers, Tears For Fears actually sound surprisingly good here, especially on the extended jams they get into on "Badman's Song." The duo is complimented here by a full band and backup singers, which serves them well with a much deeper, more textured live sound. There is an almost Steely Dan sort of complexity to TFF live, that I for one was quite surprised by.
Robert Plant also comes off swimmingly here, with his voice showing a much deeper timbre on tracks like "Hurting Kind" than we've heard from him in years. The Led Zeppelin samples of "Tall Cool One" are also always a lot of fun to hear. Speaking of Zep, Plant's former (and future?) bandmate Jimmy Page joins him here on "Wearing And Tearing."
I found the Phil Collins and Genesis sets a little bit irritating, as this was during the period when Phil Collins was driving the boat, and the band had essentially devolved into a Wurlitzer hits-making machine. Even so, could we at least have gotten their own hits here, rather than a covers medley? "Mama" aside, the "Turn It On Again" medley is a rather cheap-sounding knockoff of short bits from the rock and roll hall of fame songbook. Maybe they were already lobbying back then, who knows?