Durham Dome Festival 1973 – 1980

Durham Dome Festival 1973 – 1980
chrisjaggerDurham Dome fest took place during the years 1973 to 1980. Several pleasant sunny afternoons and evenings were spent down on the Riverside Race Course in Durham.

From local alternative hippy North East zine Mother Grumble, which organised the Durham Dome fests:
“Durham Domefest 1st July 1973
So many people, magical music, listening in the sunshine, smiling, free.
And there was free music.
And there was lite and love.
Riding bureaucratic storms to do this together, so many people helped make this happen, and will again.
Policeman, friends, lovers, strangers all together down at the riverside.
Old folks, young folks, we’re going to grow and grow, help them who can’t come and do another show.
Contact Mother G to plan and build the next one, new faces, new bands
Loudest sound in Durham town, the people can never let the people down.
There are no words, we can all see there, we have all been there, see you next time.
Durham’s first free open air music for the people, by the people – it’s all too beautiful
Meet you at the next one.
And don’t be late.”

The festival would feature a host of local bands playing on a domed stage, with a few name bands joining in. I recall sing Chris Jagger, Jack the Lad, Isotope and Global Village Trucking Company play alongside Arbre, Hedgehog Pie, Steve Brown Band, Village (think they won the Melody Maker contest?) and Raw Spirit. Prefab Sprout played at one of the later festivals, and I read that Supertramp also played at one of the Dome fest, although I don’t recall seeing them. I went to several of the Dome fests, including the first, although I don’t recall which ones I actually attended.
I recall a real buzz about Chris Jagger who turned up unannounced and played on a sunny afternoon. It was at the time of his “You Know the Name but not the Face” lp, which places it around 1973. And pretty good he was too.
The Dome fests were happy friendly events; you would turn up, chat to friends and lie in the sun on the grass by the river, listening to some music. You never knew which bands would play, and that was part of the fun of it. Everything seemed so much simpler. Happy Days 🙂

9 responses to this post.

  1. As a schoolboy in Durham during those years, I remember the dilemma of whether to go to Domefest or revise for my exams. I think I took some books with me and revised during the breaks between bands! I also recall seeing Last Exit (Sting/Gordon Sumner on bass) at one of the Domefests.


  2. Posted by david henderson on March 26, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    I was there at the Domefest in 1974 – the band I was in ‘keplers ellipse’ (a proggy keyboards based band playing camel,caravan, van der graaf covers) had blagged a spot just before the main band of the day ‘ jack the lad’. It was a brilliant day. Jack the lad were fantastic.
    I remember we played a rock version of the fugue in d minor by bach (egg had done a version). Our keyboard player, Tim, forgot where he was halfway through and so started again from the beginning – much to the horror of our bass player, Roger, who had to fumble his way out of the situation in front of an awful lot of folk watching us – I don’t think anyone realised. My only regret for the day was that I was so caught up in it all that I didn’t take any photo’s. It would be good if anyone has any out there.


    • Posted by vintagerock on March 27, 2015 at 7:01 am

      Many thanks David. “Keplers Ellipse” sound great. I’m sure I must have seen you play that day. Great memories Peter


  3. Posted by Ian James Wallis on March 26, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    I went along to quite a few of the ‘Domefests’, the first being in 1974 which featured Chris Jagger and Jack the Lad.
    1975 featured Arbre, Global Village Trucking Company, Hedgehog Pie, Isotope, and Steve Brown Band. There is a great pic of the festival on the Hedgehog Pie live CD, and i can see myself and my friend Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves) who i went with each year.
    1976, 1977 and onwards just featured local band from the area i seem to remember …
    It was a great little free festival in the middle of June … great, if somewhat hazy memories …


  4. Posted by vintagerock on March 27, 2015 at 7:02 am

    Many thanks Ian. As you say great days 🙂 Peter


  5. Posted by Neil Thompson on April 1, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Hi Peter, I was at the 75,76 and 77 Domefests. As Ian said in the comment before, 76 and 77 was just local bands – which was a big comedown from the 75 one – cause it was ace. I got there just in time to see Arbre then Global Village Trucking Company. The next two bands were incredible. Hedgehog Pie are probably my fave band from the North East ever and they were on fire at this gig – still buzzing from their set and on walk Isotope – one of the best gigs I have ever seen – I can still picture them playing most of their second album. I went backstage and shook hands with both bands and went home very happy – great times that will never, ever be repeated.


  6. Some more on the Dome Fests, including the first which I attended twice! Honest. 🙂 See the story. http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/durham-dome-festival-1973.html


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