John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra 1973

John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra 1973. johntix73I first saw John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra at a concert at Newcastle City Hall in 1973. This was the original line-up of the band and featured leader “Mahavishnu” John McLaughlin on virtuoso guitar, Jan Hammer on keyboards, Jerry Goodman (from The Flock) on electric violin, Rick Laird on bass guitar, and Billy Cobham (from Miles Davis’ band) on drums. These guys were pioneers in so many ways; in McLaughlin’s use of the twin neck guitar which enabled him to switch from 6 to 12 strings, in Jan Hammer’s use of the mini-moog and in their unique fusion of rock, jazz, funk, classical and Indian influences. This was the band which recorded the seminal albums The Inner Mounting Flame (1971) and Birds of Fire (1973). Their music was like nothing else I had experienced at the time; experimental yet at the same time heavily orchestrated. Pioneering and fascinating stuff; I was deeply impressed by the musicianship and virtuosity on show. The set is likely to have been drawn from the first two albums and will probably have included tracks like Birds of Fire, Meeting of the Spirits, You Know, You Know, The Dance of Maya, Open Country Joy, Dream, Sanctuary, One Word, Hope, Awakening. All pretty mystical and deep heavy stuff for a young teenager, and quite different from seeing Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin! This was a brave booking for local promoter Geoff Docherty and his Fillmore North (note the misspelling of “North” as “Worth” 🙂 ). This line-up of the Mahavishnu Orchestra split later that year, and McLaughlin reformed the band with a completely new membership in 1974. I saw the new version of the Orchestra on three occasions, and I will write about that tomorrow.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Brian Jaworsky on November 25, 2013 at 12:42 am

    Oooooo,… Flash back. Just hit on this site by random.
    First saw John and the Orchestra as the opening act for Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1973. This was my very first concert. Frank new, that when the Mothers played, they had to be as good as John. What a great show.

    Weazel Jaguar


  2. Posted by craig platt on January 10, 2023 at 4:34 am

    If anyone reading this is still around….. all I can say is I was the guy sitting in Seat M12, middle seat down below you on Main Floor, right in the middle of the aisle that ran across the theater, from right to left, no doubt thrashing around like a maniac, going crazy over this amazing music. Then, a day or two later I was up on stage, playing First Chair Trumpet in Newcastle City Schools First Orchestra. I am sure I have my ticket somewhere….. so I can check my accuracy if I hear any replies. Crazy random coincidence that I found this will searching for Jan Hammer….. cool.


    • Posted by vintagerock on January 10, 2023 at 12:48 pm

      Hi Craig thanks for sharing. Sounds like you had a busy 1970s attending lots of concerts and also playing at the City Hall! Happy days Peter


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