Nick at the Pigstock Festival, Denbigh, North Wales,
Saturday 10 August 2002 - by Alan Thompson and Maggie Hornby

Photo courtesy of Rona Potter

HHOH ace reporter Maggie (l) with her cohort Rona at Pigstock...
oh and some musician on stage, we heard he's supposed to be quite good!

Alan's review

Had a great time at Pigstock over the weekend! Nick arrived quite early on the Saturday morning, having driven all the way down from Scotland. I was part of the crew for the festival, taking lots and lots of stills too, on SLR (black and whites) and some digital colour pics too. I wandered into one of the caravan "offices" to check something out, and discovered Nick wolfing down a balti and chips out of a polysterene carton, looking rather rough. I greeted him warmly, with surprise in my voice - I wasn't expecting him till much later in the day. It was nice that he recognised me, from the few previous times we've met after gigs etc, and I offered my services for anything he needed while he was with us. He shortly disappeared to get settled and have a bit of a lie down, I imagined.

Later on in the day I spotted Nick backstage, looking refreshed and energetic. I went over for a chat, and during the conversation mentioned how much I liked the new tune he'd written for his daughter (which I'd heard for the first time in Chester in May). I was delighted that he chose to play it in the set later (although one string was a bit out of tune and very noticeable to these ears). I also mentioned the fact that the Muffin Men (a Zappa tribute band) were on after him, and wondered about the chances of getting two different versions of Titties And Beer in the same festival, and how amusing that would be! Later, during Nick's set, he mentioned that he'd had a word with the band and since they don't do that song, he was going to!

When Nick came on, it seemed apparent that quite a few folks were there just for him, though that still left a large number who had probably never heard of him before. He started out a bit wobbly, I thought, and it took until the third song to see him relax a little and start turning on the old Harper magic. He tended to keep to the upbeat lively stuff, which was more suited to that type of gig - outdoor festival where most of the audience probably hadn't even heard of Roy Harper, nevermind Nick. The applause he was getting after each song was immense, and genuine. A true indication of the guy's total ability to get a crowd hooked.

Anyway, here's the setlist:
She Rules My World / Karmageddon / Building Our Own Temple medley / Radio Silence teaser (aborted) / She Makes Music (Lily's song... or is it called Just By Being Near?) / Guitar Man (with Whole Lotta Love Zep thing) / Galaxy Song / Love Is Music intro > Headless / Titties And Beer

Nick stayed with us all evening and had a great time, he's such a funny and intelligent guy. A highlight for me was when we (some of the crew and Nick too) were just taking some time to chill out later in the evening, away from the crowds and the music for a while. One of the festival organiser's daughter came in to say hello (she's only 8). Nick grabbed her attention by showing her a trick with a length of string, tied, like a necklace (it was actually the string from my pipe, which i'd volunteered for the occasion). Asking her to stick her thumb up, he looped it over and then held the other end in his right hand. He then made a few twists and turns ending up with his left middle finger in contact with her thumb. "Are you ready?" he said, and pulled slowly with his right hand index finger. Slowly the tangled loops unravelled and snaked around Gemma's finger, coming free as if by magic, and back to Nick. She was wowed.

He then went on to teach her the trick, which was lovely because she was very nervous about trying it in front of (about 4 or 5) adults. Patiently, step by step, he explained how to do it and after a few quick attempts she'd cracked it. You should have seen the smile on her face! She was the proudest little girl on the planet, and kept repeating the trick on all of us in turn. Nick later told me that that had been the highlight of his week, and that he'd remember it for sure.

I'd thanked Nick personally, earlier in the day (before he played) for supporting our little event - it meant a LOT to us that he was playing. He was delighted to be there it and said he would be up for it again, anytime. Incidentally, i also heard Nick chatting to a couple of the guys from the Levellers, who were playing the festival as their "Drunk in Public" line up. They seemed to be discussing getting together on something in the future, so watch that space too!

Maggie's observations

Conditions - fine, a little muddy underfoot, sideshows with everything from candyfloss to body piercing. Very enthusiastic crowd. Children rolling in mud, toilets that gave up the ghost by tea time and loads of interesting ethnic clothing on view.

Sound system - not bad at all, everything considered. Fairly effective. Nice jukebox of tracks in between the acts to rally the troops.

As soon as Nick came on stage, many of the audience who had until this point been lounging on bales of hay either shuffled them further towards the stage or stood closer.

Highlights of Nick's set for me:

Another gig well worth the journey!

Created 14 September 2002
© AT/MH/RP/PLC 2002